Editorial: Suburban police dogs play an important role in keeping us safe

Today we pay tribute to a certain breed of local law enforcement heroes. Unfortunately, not one of them will be able to read our words of praise.

Yes, Dax, we're talking to you. And to Duke. And, of course, to Diesel.

They're Lake County's police dogs, but there are many others across the suburbs. They've saved lives, tracked suspects and followed their noses to lead officers to drugs, explosives and more.

Just last week, Browser, assigned to the Lake County State's Attorney's office, helped officers sniff out computer electronics, which led to child porn charges against an Antioch Township man.

And Browser follows in the impressive paw prints of Dax, the Lake County sheriff's department German shepherd who has won a number of honors and was chosen the top law enforcement dog in the country two years ago in an award show on the Hallmark Channel.

Yet, he has not let fame go to his head.

Just last year, in the course of about 24 hours, Dax had two important missions. He helped track down a man who had been beaten in Beach Park. The man was intoxicated and disoriented and could have died in the cold. Twenty-four hours later, Dax was back on duty - this time aiding his partner, Deputy John Forlenza, in apprehending a stabbing suspect in Round Lake.

And we'd be remiss not to salute Dax's department mates, including Duke and Diesel. Last summer, Duke helped lead sheriff's deputies to a car trunk filled with five pounds of methamphetamine, more than 700 grams of cocaine and over 20 grams of heroin, as well as a stolen firearm. Three people were arrested. Not long after, Diesel and his handler, Deputy Craig Somerville Jr., teamed up to find an endangered Tower Lakes teen who'd gone missing.

Meanwhile, in Elgin, Chance - a golden retriever puppy - is undergoing training to serve as a comfort dog. Chance and Officer Craig Arnold, his primary handler, will work with the department's Collaborative Crisis Services Unit, which conducts follow-up visits with those who might benefit from mental health services.

We can't, of course, honor all these suburban heroes by name. But we can be thankful for their service.

And we can help where we can. Campton Hills, for example, is currently preparing for K-9 Koda's 2nd Annual Motorcycle Ride, a fundraiser that includes family events and lunch that will help support police dog Koda and his unit. Plus, donations help outfit these four-legged heroes with bulletproof vests.

If someone you loved was missing or the victim of a crime, you'd want one of these special officers on the case.

So today, we salute them for their service. Stay safe.

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