Family, firefighters and canine teams said their final goodbye Sunday afternoon in Johnsburg before Lincolnshire-Riverwoods Fire District Canine Irie was put down following a sudden medical diagnosis.
“It’s with great sadness that we have to announce the early medical retirement of our Search and Rescue K9 and our firehouse dog,” the Lincolnshire-Riverwoods Fire Protection District said Sunday morning.
Canine Irie retired from the district on Saturday after five years of service. She was diagnosed with kidney failure.
Irie was a “well-decorated” search dog that responded to over 40 requests for service, the fire district said.
She responded throughout the Chicago suburbs and located many people lost or in distress during her career.
Irie held many certifications in tracking, trailing, article search and obedience.
She was also a Type 1 disaster canine for the State of Illinois’s Urban Search and Rescue – Task Force 1.
Irie and her handler, Firefighter-Paramedic Michael Vitale, were also one of the founding members of the Canine and Drone Search and Rescue Strike Team.
That team is a multi-jurisdictional fire department team that responds throughout northern Illinois to assist agencies in locating lost or missing people.
Irie and Vitale have trained all over the country and were able to help many people in need, the fire district said.
“Thank you for your dedicated service Irie!! We will miss you! The squirrels have no clue what’s coming for them up there! Your LRFD brothers and sisters will be cheering for you!” the fire district said in a social media post.
Family, firefighters, canine teams, police officers and others attended a final goodbye ceremony Sunday afternoon at Vitale’s home in Johnsburg.
Irie was transferred into a mobile unit from Partners and Paws Veterinary Services, at which time a veterinarian put her to sleep.