September 18, 2014

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K-9’s funeral set for today in Vermilion

VERMILION — A preliminary investigation into the cause of death of a Vermilion police dog has been completed.

The 4-year-old German shepherd, Andy, was completing training Wednesday evening at the old APEX building, a warehouse and manufacturing building in Sandusky, when he fell and died, according to Capt. Mike Reinheimer.

As part of the training, officers hid from Andy on the first floor of the building, and Andy was supposed to find them by scent, Reinheimer said. For unknown reasons, Andy ran past the men to the third floor, where he reportedly jumped over a small wall, falling several feet to the roof of the separate structure below.

According to a news release, Andy broke his back in the fall and died shortly after.

Reinheimer said officers have speculated that Andy may have picked up the scent of homeless people, who were cleared from the building earlier, or he had become confused when his handler, Cpl. Scott Holmes, called him from below.

Reinheimer said the investigation has been turned over to the Sandusky Police Department, which will track Andy’s dusty paw prints to determine exactly what happened.

Reinheimer said the Vermilion Police Department is looking into getting a new K-9 later this year, but for now, officers mourn the death of the beloved dog.

“Andy was a great dog,” Reinheimer said. “He had a real good temperament. He just had that spark.”

Andy was used for tracking, drug enforcement and community events. Reinheimer said Andy was scheduled for three summer camps and worked well with children.

“He was great with children. … The kids loved him,” Reinheimer said.

A police funeral for Andy will be 11 a.m. today at Vermilion Elementary School’s gymnasium, 935 Decatur St. K-9 units attending the service will be directed to the parking area behind the old South Street School, according to a news release.

Reinheimer said he does not know when police K-9 funerals began, but per protocol, when a police dog dies, the animal is to receive a funeral, not unlike fellow officers.

“A K-9 is actually considered an officer,” Reinheimer said. “They’re sworn in and issued a badge like everyone else.”

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com.