NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WVEC) -- The Newport News Police Department and the Police K-9 Unit shared sad news, Thursday night. One of the department's K-9s passed away.

K-9 Hammer passed away during a dental procedure.

K-9 Hammer was a dual purpose K-9. The 5-year-old German Shepard was trained in narcotics detection and patrol. He joined the department in June 2012 after completing the required training.

Hammer was assigned to MPO Hatton in January 2013, and has trained alongside him ever since.

MPO Hatton and K-9 Hammer received the Award of Merit from the Virginia Police Work Dog Association for apprehending a hit-and-run suspect in Glocester in May 2016.

The two were also a part of the Violent Crimes Reduction Task Force that formed in November 2016. Their work together was instrumental in the task force's success.

The Newport News Police Department K-9 Unit and MPO Hatton ask that the public keep them in their thoughts during this difficult time.