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Bil-Jac Foods and The German Shepherd Dog Club of Northern Ohio have come together again this year to Honor the German Shepherd in K-9 Police Work in Northern Ohio The Honor is based on their contributions during the calendar year 2004.


This year, our First Honoree and his Partner responded to the report of a fight outside of a restaurant. People involved in the fight began to fight with officers that had responded to the scene. Without being called on to assist, this K-9 saw that his Partner was being assaulted and exited the patrol car to come to his aid. During the ensuing moments, the two suspects that were assaulting the police officers were bitten by the K-9 officer. They were taken into custody and charged with various offenses.

Our TOP HONOR FOR PROTECTION IN THE LINE OF DUTY for 2004 goes to K-9 KANTO of the Shaker Heights Police Department.
Partner, Sgt. Jaime Planinsek.



Our Next Honoree and his Partner were finishing their day of work and on their way home when they noticed an Ohio State Highway Patrol on a traffic stop. The Partner spoke with the State Highway Patrol Officer. The stopped car was out of Texas and the officer believed the occupants were hauling drugs. The Officer asked if the K-9 could be walked around the vehicle. K-9, when walked by the rear trunk area, stopped abruptly and began to bark and scratch loudly at the rear trunk lid, indicating the presence of drugs. A search of the trunk revealed approximately 52 pounds of marijuana, which had been dipped in oil and sealed in ziplock bags to conceal the small, along with a loaded 9mm Rugar semi-automatic handgun and over $3,000.00 in U.S. Currency.

Our TOP HONOR FOR SUBSTANCE DETECTION for 2004 goes to K-9 RADAR of the Cleveland Metroparks Ranger Department
here with his Partner, Sgt. Sean Flanigan.


Our next K-9 just completed her first full calendar year in service. She also has assisted local agencies, such as the Painesville Police Department, Lake County Sheriff's Office, Lake County Jail, Madison Village Police Department, Lake County Narcotics Agency, among others. This K-9 has had many successful tracks and narcotic searches, as well as being involved in community activities. As part of the lunchtime intervention program at Fairport Harbor High School and McKinley Elementary she has conducted business checks. Students, as well as faculty, have been able to meet and pet her. The Intervention Program helps the Fairport Harbor Police develop a “repoire” with students and faculty, as well as a chance for students and adults to interact with the K-9 Officer.

Our TOP HONOR FOR ROOKIE for 2004 is K-9 ZEUS of the Fairport Harbor Police Department, handler, Officer Lee Campbell.



This year we are honoring two K-9’s in the area of Tracking. On June 2nd, officers were dispatched on a 911 hang up call. Upon arrival, officers observed a male actively assaulting a woman. Upon seeing the officers, the male fled into the home and hid. Officers search the home without success. Our K-9 officer searched the home and began to show signs of interest in the basement laundry area. K-9 was removed from the area due to a large amount of blood on the floor. When officers focused their search on area that K-9 indicated, the man was discovered hiding in the empty shell of a clothing dryer.

Our first TOP HONOR FOR TRACKING for 2004 is K-9 MAJOR of the Garfield Heights Police Department and his handler, Dale Merchant.


On October 20th, undercover agents from the Wadsworth Police Department and the MEDWAY drug enforcement agency attempted a buy bus in the City of Wadsworth. The suspect seemed to realize the agent was a Police Officer and attempted to flee the scene. In so doing, the suspect struck the officer with his vehicle and the officer fired a round, just striking the suspect in the neck, before he fell to the ground. The suspect then fled the scene. Our K-9 and his handler were then requested to the scene. The track the dog indicated went through several back yards, over fences and a small stream. K-9 found a blood-stained shirt near a tree line. Track continued down the tree line. Moments after crossing a small stream, K-9 showed attention in an area of bushes. As the K-9 and his handler approached these bushes, an Officer with a thermal imager said a large area of heat was indicated approximately 10 yards (30 feet) from K-9’s position. Officers surrounded the area and within minutes was able to take the suspect into custody without incident.

Our next TOP HONOR for TRACKING for 2004 is K-9 LOUIS of the Lafayette Police Department, handler, Officer Steve Clark.



Our next dog, although primarily a Narcotics K-9, also does tracking and community service. His most notable track in 2004 was of a suicidal male missing from Eastlake. His car was found in the North Chagrin Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks System. Initially, a search conducted turned up nothing, when this K-9 was called in (the Metroparks K-9 was out-of-town). Within 30 minutes, Subject was found by K-9, unfortunately too late. This Honoree has even managed to make arrests even when not on duty – just by reputation. Many officers have learned to call for him on the radio, in the presence of people suspected of having drugs in the vehicle. On hearing the K-9 being called, they immediately surrender the drugs. Meanwhile, this K-9 officer is sound asleep on his couch at home. He is 8 years old, showing no signs of being ready to retire, and has just completed state certification good for the next two years.

Our TOP HONOR for VETERAN for 2004 is K-9 MARCO of the Eastlake Police Department with his Handler, Patrolman Richard Greer.



There are many K-9’s that work in smaller communities and aside from tracking and some drug situations, public demonstrations to educate and entertain the public, community service and dedicated training is of the foremost importance. In Brunswick Hills Police Department, Hawke and Falcon were a father and son team in 2004. Falcon retired this past March, 2005.

This SPECIAL RECOGNITION for K-9 SERVICE goes to K-9 FALCON of the Brunswick Hills Police Department
, here with his partner, Officer Heather Stask.



Throughout the year, this K-9 was part of a unit that responded to numerous calls for assistance involving narcotics, area searches, tracking and building searches. This K-9 was involved in narcotics searches that discovered a rolling meth lab as well as a reported burglary that turned into a drug deal “gone bad”; a crowd control incident with a fight involving 150-200 people where the K-9 assisted his Handler in moving crowd away from victim until other officers came to assist. In light of his general accomplishments, we are giving this SPECIAL RECOGNITION for K-9 SERVICE to K-9 JESSY of the Kent Police Department and her Handler, Jim Ennemoser.



Community Service is a very important part of K-9 work. One of our dogs here today stands out in this area. One of the duties of a K-9 Unit is to further the spirit of community policing in the city through a variety of functions. This K-9 regularly conducts foot patrols in all the city’s parks and neighborhoods. While on patrol, the team addresses various quality of life issues, such as loud music, juveniles walking in the street or drinking in public. They participate in many public demonstrations such as Dog Days at the Museum of Natural History and Working Dog Weekend at Lake Farm Park. Most important is the “Puppy Patrol” demonstration they do with the third grade classes at the local elementary school. This class teaches the children the dangers of illegal drugs and guns and encourages them to report any suspicious activity in their neighborhoods to the police or responsible adult. In light of all the foregoing:

Our TOP HONOR for COMMUNITY SERVICE goes to K-9 REX of the South Euclid Police Department, here today with his Partner, Mike Fink.



We have honored our next Honoree before. Besides the work he did within his own department, he often worked special assignments with other agencies such as the United States Postal Service, United States Drug Enforcement Agency, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office, and other police departments. In 2004, this K-9 and his Handler were responsible for the following seizures: 3,531 pounds of Marijuana; 46 kilograms of Cocaine (including powder and crack); 9 pounds Methamphetamines; 3 gallons liquid PCP; 2,000 pharmaceutical tablets; 360 20 ml vials of injectable steroids; 50 pints codeine syrup; $120,000.00 U.S. currency, resulting in 60 arrests. Sadly, on April 13th he crossed over the Rainbow Bridge, on his own, at the age of 13. He really was very Special.

TOP HONOR FOR NARCOTICS DETECTION for 2004 goes to K-9 GUNNER of the East Cleveland Police Department. Here to accept is his Partner, Detective Gene Cook.



We would also like to honor K-9’s and Handlers who came out today in support of our Hero Dogs. Let’s welcome:

Bill Truex and K-9 Gunnie
Sandy Lesko and K-9 Gondo (and K-9 Elliot Ness)
Marty Gilliland and K-9 Bak



Our next Honor is a little bit out of the ordinary for us. Another officer wrote “he has always been willing to help new police officers and specifically new K-9 handlers learn the ropes”. In January, 2005, Mike Matsik and K-9 Aero retired from the Shaker Heights Police Force. Mike Matsik started his K-9 Handler career while with the Geauga County Sheriff’s Office. As we understand, his first K-9, Drill, was “rescued” when his owners were going through a divorce. Mike took this dog, who we have to say was actually bred by our own Joan Fox, and worked as K-9 Drill’s partner for many years, first with the Sheriff’s office and then with the Middlefield Village Police. (We heard a little story about Drill always being very cautious and wary of Mike’s daughters suitors.) When Drill could no longer perform his duties, Mike partnered with K-9 Aero. Aero also has been a very special dog. Mike once told me a story about a vacation he took with Aero.
Sadly, someone was missing in a swimming accident. When people heard that Aero was a K-9 officer, they asked if he could help. Mike told them the dog was not trained for that type of work, but figured he could try and see what happened. Mike and the dog went into the boat onto the lake, and sure enough, Aero indicated at a certain location and later the body was actually found there. Mike has always been very dedicated to the K-9 in police work and hopefully, although retired, he’ll be there to help and guide others. Because of his dedication and inspiration of others …

At this time, we would like to award him SPECIAL RECOGNITION for LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT to MIKE MATSIK and his personal Hero Dogs, K-9 AERO and K-9 DRILL.



2004 marked the start of this team’s eighth year of service together. Each month this K-9 and his Handler were involved in situations from narcotics to tracking to bravery and protection and community service. To site some examples: flight of a suspect wanted on numerous felony warrants was prevented --- when the suspect was stopped, he immediately bailed from his car and attempted to flee in front of his car. As he rounded the front of the car, he saw the K-9 and Officer ready to deploy. Although the suspect resisted his arrest as officers converged on him, K-9 prevented the suspect from fleeing into the woods. This suspect was subsequently found to have a loaded handgun on his person.

In another situation, while assisting another officer in the arrest of an assault suspect, K-9 was called upon to engage the suspect after he became combative. Chemical spray proved ineffective on the 300-pound suspect, who then began attacking the K-9. This dog did not back down from the suspect’s assault and was instrumental in getting the suspect under control. The suspect was later charged with assaulting a police K-9, in addition to other charges.

Along with many of the other K-9’s we have honored here today, this K-9 Unit has focused efforts in the area of Community Policing in 2004. The K-9 Unit was seen at many public venues --- major retail areas, city parks and special events, such as Mentor High and Lake Catholic football games, church festivals, and the annual Kops-n-Kids Christmas Party. Public Demonstrations were held at Law Days, Working Dog Weekend and Mutt Strut.

Most impressive is that this wonderful K-9 lives in a home with many young children and other dogs --- with no issues! He really is wonderful!

THE GENE JASINSKI HERO DOG AWARD for OUTSTANDING K-9 SERVICE for 2004 goes to K-9 THUNDER from the Mentor Police Department and his Partner, Officer Ron Gunton.



 photos by woodland designs

Archive Hero Dog Awards 2004

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