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K-9 Gunnar, his trainer honored for ‘a job well done’

Round Lake Beach Police Officer Ken Rydz Gunnar perform demonstratiduringNational Night Out Round Lake Beach Lakefront Park. | Michael Schmidt~Sund-Times

Round Lake Beach Police Officer Ken Rydz and Gunnar perform a demonstration duringNational Night Out at the Round Lake Beach Lakefront Park. | Michael Schmidt~Sund-Times Media

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Updated: June 13, 2013 9:09PM

K-9 Gunnar of the Round Lake Beach Police Department has done his share of crime fighting over his 8 years on the force, but now it’s time for him to retire, and he could end up being the last of his kind on the force.

“He’s 9 years old now. We want him to have a couple of years of retirement,” said Police Chief Gary Bitler. The village of Round Lake Beach honored dog and handler Monday, April 8.

Not only was he good at police work, but the police dog, whose handler is Police Officer Ken Rydz, was also good at festivals and other gatherings where he would show off his skills through demonstrations.

“He was always a big hit with the kids,” said Bitler, although no police dogs are the type that people can get up close and pet and hug. Only their handlers have that relationship. “But he was great with public relations,” he said.

“He’s assisted a lot of people and jurisdictions,” said the chief, including jail sweeps and searching for suspects. Gunnar also found missing persons and helped apprehend criminals.

“Back in April of 2012, we called for him for a sniff on a storage unit in town. We got $40,000 in cash, heroin, firearms and jewelry,” he said, but that case is still ongoing so it can’t be discussed.

“We’ve had a couple of seized cars, and he was used by the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) when they made a dozen drug arrests recently,” said Bitler.

“He was a good dog,” said Bitler, but they probably will not be getting another one.

“That seems to be the trend. There is a lot of time and effort, hundreds of hours of training. And now there are new training requirements,” he said. “Departments are kind of getting away from it now,” he added, noting the Lake County Sheriff’s Office used to have four K-9 units and are now down to one.

“It means there is another office dedicated to the street,” said Bitler.

“We’ll have to see what the future brings,” he said, not writing off the K-9 unit completely, considering the department had one in the ’80s, then didn’t have one until Gunnar came along. Part of his costs were covered by a grant.

Gunnar will now wait for his handler at home and be able to lounge around. It may take some getting used to because he has been with Rydz 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The village turned the dog over to Rydz after honoring the two April 8 at the village board meeting.

“It’s his partner, it’s his pet,” Bitler said of their relationship.

The end of the resolution simply reads:

“WHEREAS, It is the desire of the community and Village Administration to recognize, on the occasion of the retirement of K-9 Gunnar, the hard work and dedication displayed by the K-9 team on behalf of the citizens of Round Lake Beach.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, MAYOR RICHARD H. HILL, ON BEHALF OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES and the residents of the Village of Round Lake Beach, do hereby offer our sincerest thanks and appreciation to K-9 Gunnar and Officer Ken Rydz for a job well done.”

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