Hero Down: Portsmouth Police K9 Max Dies After Suffering On-Duty Injuries

Holly Matkin

Portsmouth Police Department K9 Max died in the line of duty on May 23.

Rollinsford, NH – Portsmouth Police Department (PPD) K9 Max died in the line of duty on May 23, after he suffered severe injuries during a training exercise the day prior.

K9 Max, a six-year-old German Shepherd, was conducting an off-lead obedience training exercise with his human partner, Portsmouth Police Officer Steve Blanding, when the fatal accident occurred, The Portsmouth Herald reported.

“K9 Max ran full speed at a wooden bench-like structure in pursuit of his ball and mistimed a jump, which caused him to collide with the structure,” Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Merner explained. “K9 Max was in extreme pain after the collision and could barely walk on his own.”

Officer Blanding immediately rushed his K9 partner to a local veterinarian for an examination.

He was examined by another veterinarian at Port City Veterinary Referral Hospital a short while later.

“Over the next few hours, K9 Max’s condition was declining and on the morning of May 23, it was decided K9 Max would be transported to Massachusetts Veterinary Referral Hospital in Woburn, Mass. to undergo an emergency surgery,” Chief Merner said.

During the procedure, the doctor discovered that K9 Max “had sustained a fatal wound to his intestines” among numerous other severe internal injuries, the chief explained.

“It was recommended K9 Max be humanely euthanized,” he said.

The PPD announced K9 Max’s tragic death in a Facebook post on May 23.

“He was an ambassador to our beautiful city, partner and best friend to one of our finest officers, and beloved teammate of our tactical team,” the PPD’s post read. “You will be missed and your life mattered.”

Chief Merner said that K9 Max was a “marvelous dog,” The Portsmouth Herald reported.

“It is a loss for all. He has been a good partner to Steve for almost five years,” he added. “It’s more than that though. Max and Steve are partners and they are bonded, so the loss for him is great.”

Portsmouth Police Lieutenant Eric Kinsman, commander of the department’s K9 unit, said that Officer Blanding and K9 Max were a joy to watch in action, The Portsmouth Herald reported.

“The first time I saw Max with Steve, it was obvious,” Lt. Kinsman noted. “Their bond began to flourish immediately…whether we were inserting him into a second story window, or Steve was carrying him in a harness on his back or when he was standing right by Steve’s side, Max was always on. He loved to work and it showed.”

Lt. Kinsman said that K9 Max was “feared by the bad guys and loved by our young people.”

“He lived to please and through his love, he provided happiness,” the lieutenant added. “Rest easy Max. You deserve it.”

On June 1, the department held a memorial service to honor K9 Max’s service to the community.

Law enforcement officers and many of their K9 partners were in attendance, The Portsmouth Herald reported.

“I want to thank everyone who came out to support us,” Officer Blanding said after the gathering. “It’s all pretty overwhelming right now.”





Our thoughts and prayers are with the Portsmouth Police Department and Officer Blanding in the loss of K9 Max.

Comments (10)
No. 1-9

Rest in peace, K9 Max. Condolences to Officer Blandings and to the Portsmouth Police Department. Wait at the end of the Rainbow Bridge, Max, until your partner joins you.


So tragic. RIP in Rainbow Heaven w/your fellow K9 officers, beautiful boy. Condolences to your partner, Officer Blandings & the entire PD of Portsmouth. It’s extremely difficult to lose a beloved dog that you spent so much time with, bonding thru that kind of work as well. My heart breaks for you both. 🐾😔

Chief Deputy
Chief Deputy

R.I.P. Officer Max. Hope you are enjoying running and playing with other K9 Officers in puppy heaven. We will all be together in end.


This is really close to where I live and work. This is a terrible loss. Rest easy K9 Max.


Yo, Cant-Do-The-Job-Right....as if you have the slightest idea what the job entails. Dick.


Sorry to hear about Max! Prayers for comfort for partner!


Breaks my heart. May the Lord give his handler, family and unit comfort to a great K9 Officer. RIP Hero.


RIP Max!! So sad for your owner.

Fallen Heroes