Middletown K9 officer killed in barn fire

Middletown K9 Officer Gunner’s death Monday is “devastating” for the city’s police department, said Sgt. Andy Warrick.

While K9 officers are considered “another tool” in police work, Warrick, the department’s K9 supervisor, said the dogs “become part of your family, they become your partner.”

Gunner died Monday night in a barn fire at the home of Middletown police Officer Dennis Jordan, Gunner’s handler and partner. The fire is still under investigation, but it’s believed a heater used to keep Gunner warm in the barn where he slept was the source of the fire, Warrick said.

Gunner, a 7½-year-old German Shepherd, was purchased in 2009 by the Middletown Division of Police for $6,500. He was one of two K9 officers for the department. Aki was purchased in 2013 for $8,500 and alternated second- and third-shift duties with Gunner.

This past summer, Gunner was named the top detector in the narcotics division at the U.S. Police K9 Association Regional tournament in Kentucky. He was set to compete in the national tournament this year.

A memorial service for Gunner is set for 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Middletown K9 training facility, 1940 Runway Maintenance Road.

The local Fraternal Order of Police Associates is in the process of collecting donations to assist with the final costs for Gunner. Donations are needed to cover the police dog’s final costs, such as for burial and a headstone, as well as for the costs of purchasing and training of a new police dog.

Contributions can be made to FOPA Lodge #2, P.O. Box 1218, Middletown, OH, 45042. All contributions are tax deductible.