Soon-to-be police canine Gunny sits in front of a Round Lake Park police squad car. | Provided Photo

The Round Lake Park Police Department announced that Gunny, a 10-month-old German Shepherd, is joining the department thanks to a donation from a downstate business.

Round Lake Park Police Chief Daniel Burch said Gunny is a 10-month-old AKC German Shepherd that was donated to the police department by Ellis and Ellis Consultants, LLC through their “Project Safe and Secure” program.

Burch was the department’s first canine handler in 1999 when he was an officer.

The department has had three other canines, with the last retiring in 2016.

“We have been interested in obtaining another K9 to serve Round Lake Park, and when needed, the surrounding communities, for some time. The biggest challenge initially has been finding an officer that was interested in becoming a handler to work with a police dog,” Burch said.

“It takes a huge amount of time and commitment on the part of a handler. We now have two highly qualified and experienced officers that are eager to work with Gunny that are currently going through a selection process,” he said.

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Gunny will be evaluated by TOPS Kennels in Grayslake to help determine which officer will be the better handler.

Burch first learned of the possibility of a canine donation in February when he and other Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police members were told that a purebred German Shepherd canine was available for donation.

“We immediately expressed our interested in being considered for the donation as we had just started the process for getting a K9 this fall. The timing was perfect,” Burch said.

Burch and six other law enforcement agencies waited almost two months before hearing from Ellis and Ellis Consultants saying they had three canines they were donating to law enforcement agencies across Illinois.

Burch met with Ron Ellis and Sandra Ellis in Mount Pulaski to meet the three canines.

“It was a tough decision, but ultimately we felt Gunny would be the best choice for Round Lake Park,” Burch said.

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The donation is valued at $15,000, which means the Village of Round Lake Park will be saving money.

“We are grateful for to Ron and Sandra for their very generous donation. This is a wonderful example of public-private partnerships as part of an Illinois safe community initiative,” Burch said.

Gunny will be attending training at TOPS Kennels starting in June. The first eight weeks of his training will teach him the basics of being a police canine.

Following the initial training, Gunny and his handler will complete the 400-hour state certification course.

Gunny will initially be trained in tracking, area searches and illicit narcotics detection.

The police department said they are applying for canine-specific grant funding to support the ongoing expenses of the canine program.

They are also publicly accepting monetary donations to cover the purchase of canine equipment, food, health care and training.

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Burch said donations have already been received from Dr. Koryn Swearingen and the Village Veterinary Clinic team in Grayslake, who have committed to providing care for Gunny.

Those interested in donating to the canine program can find more information on the Round Lake Park Police Department’s Facebook page or by visiting the police station.