On Saturday night, a bomb-sniffing canine fell to its death while doing a sweep of a high-rise parking lot near a hotel where Vice President Joe Biden was speaking.

The Belgian Malinois fell from the top of the six-story structure next to The Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans. Biden was there to speak at a fundraiser for Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Democrat representing Louisiana.

Agents rushed the canine to a nearby veterinary hospital in a motorcade, but veterinarians were unable to save the dog.

Secret Service spokesman Max Milien told CNN the death was a "tragic accident,” and a first. The Secret Service started its canine program in 1975 because dogs with handlers proved to be such an effective way of detecting explosives. The Secret Service uses Belgian Malinois, which are one of the four types of Belgian sheep-herding dogs. This alert, high-energy breed, which is often mistaken for a German shepherd, is popular a working dog for the police and the military.

For the Secret Service work, each dog and his agent-handler must complete 20 weeks of training. The dogs remain with their agents full-time, becoming a part of the family; when the time comes, the dogs will retire with their handlers.

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