LOUDON, Tenn. (WATE) –The Loudon County Sheriff’s Office is mourning the loss of one of their own. Retired K-9 Officer Diego died after many years serving the department.

“Today the LCSO family lost a true hero,” wrote the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office in a Facebook post. “K9 Diego and his partner Cpl. Chris Jenkins unselfishly served the citizens of Loudon County for many years! Please keep Cpl. Jenkins and his family in your thoughts and prayers.”

WATE 6 On Your Side spoke with deputy Jenkins in 2009. Deputies said they have Diego to thank for catching two crooks.

Deputies said it was too dark for them to see anything, but Diego followed the burglar’s scent to a section of Fort Loudon Lake and without hesitation jumped in after him. It turned out the suspects Diego caught were wanted for several other burglaries.

“What we do is dangerous,” Jenkins said after the incident. “He’s always there. You can always count on him. He’s always going to protect us and protect this community.”

He said he couldn’t imagine doing his job along.

“I’m just glad I got this dog because he is the best dog for me. I’m just the dummy on other end of leash. I can’t be more grateful,” he said.