Gurnee police have an expanded canine unit despite the recent retirement of German shepherd Shane.
Police Chief Kevin Woodside said the village's two new police dogs have rotated shifts since starting last week, thus covering more hours daily. He said the new German shepherds wouldn't have been possible without $55,480 donated from three private sources.
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"The entire program -- both the purchase of the animals, ongoing training and the upkeep and modifications to the squad cars to care for the animals -- all of those costs are completely covered," Woodside said at a recent Gurnee village board meeting.
Shane retired after working a special Memorial Day weekend safety checkpoint. On the force for eight years, the dog was cross-trained in patrol and narcotics details, later adding cadaver search abilities to his repertoire.
Officer Philip Mazur, who was 9-year-old Shane's handler, will continue in that capacity with the new canine unit. While Shane will live as a Mazur family pet in retirement, the officer will be accompanied by Hunter when he leaves the house for work.
Long known for being among the annual leaders in seizing driving under the influence suspects, Officer J.R. Nauseda will handle Bear on the canine unit. Both dogs will be introduced to the community at Gurnee Days in August.
Mazur said Bear and Hunter will be valuable in handler protection, building searches, tracking and other duties, but are not yet as highly qualified as Shane early in their police careers.
"These (new dogs) are cross-trained, so this means they are patrol dogs as well as narcotics dogs," Mazur said.
Libertyville-based D.A.S. Charitable Fund for the Preservation of Feline Animal Life gave $44,630 for Gurnee police to use for Hunter and Bear. The will of late Lake County journalist Marlene Hunt directed $10,000 to the canine unit and another $850 came from Gurnee Citizens Police Academy members.
Woodside said Hunter was named to honor Hunt for her $10,000 donation.
Gurnee's canine program started in 1999 with German shepherd Radar, who served for four years. German shepherd Hero stepped in until 2006, when he was sold back to TOPS Canine Complex in Grayslake for $5,500 and replaced by Shane.