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Rescue dog dies after nearly a decade of service in La Mesa

LA MESA, Calif. — A rescue dog that worked with firefighters in La Mesa for nearly a decade has died, Heartland Fire-Rescue Department said Sunday.

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It is with great sadness that we have to report the passing of Stella, Captain Matt Kirk’s Search and Rescue dog. Captain Kirk has had Stella since 2009, she came to him from the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, which trains K9’s to find people during disasters. She has been part of our Heartland fire family and part of USA&R Task Force 8 as a FEMA type 1 canine search dog. She has been on several deployments, including hurricane Irma and the recent mudslides in Montecito. She will be greatly missed and we offer our deepest condolences. We would like to thank Santee Fire Department and San Diego Fire & Rescue for their show of support during this time of need. #Heartlandfire #HFR #K9 #FEMA #USA&R @santeefire @sandiegofiredept @heartlandfirefightersoflamesa @heartlandfirefighters @chief_miller_

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Stella had served as Captain Matt Kirk’s search and rescue dog since 2009, the department said in a somber Instagram post. She came to the department from the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation and had “been part of (the) Heartland Fire family” as a FEMA search dog.

Among her deployments, Stella had worked in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and the recent mudslides in Montecito, according to the station.

“She will be greatly missed and we offer our deepest condolences. We would like to thank Santee Fire Department and San Diego Fire-Rescue (for their) show of support during this time of need,” the station wrote.

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