A Belgian Malinois, similar to this one, is one of the breeds used by the Secret Service, law enforcement agencies and military units around the world.

Story highlights

The dog was sweeping a parking deck near where VP Biden was speaking

The agency calls the death a "tragic accident"

The agency has been using Belgian Malinois since 1975

A Secret Service dog fell to its death Saturday night while doing a sweep of a multi-story parking deck near a hotel where Vice President Joe Biden was speaking.

The Belgian Malinois fell from the roof of the six-story deck adjacent to The Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans where Biden was speaking at a fundraiser for U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, reported CNN affiliate WWL.

Secret Service spokesman Max Milien told CNN the death was a “tragic accident.”

The agency began its canine program in 1975 to detect explosives. It uses Belgian Malinois because they are small and have short hair – making it easy for them to work in the heat. They are also very sociable.

Each dog and its handler has to complete 20 weeks of training before beginning work, the agency said.

When it’s time for a dog to retire – usually after about 10 years – it is retired to its handler.