File Photo – Lake County Sheriff Canine Dax | Provided Photo

The public has been invited to attend a retirement ceremony for Lake County Sheriff’s Canine Dax after he retired last week due to injuries he suffered during a suspect apprehension.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office announced the retirement of Dax Thursday morning.

Dax joined the sheriff’s office in the spring of 2015. He was 13 months old when he joined the team.

On Monday, the sheriff’s office announced a retirement ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday outside of the Sheriff’s Patrol Division, 1301 North Milwaukee Avenue in Libertyville.

The community is invited to attend the event to send Dax off into retirement and congratulate him on his 10 years of service.

“As the Lake County community has followed over the years, K9 Dax has thrived in his role as a police canine,” Lake County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli said.

Dax and his handler, Deputy John Forlenza, have located over 400 missing endangered people or fleeing felons.

Covelli said the canine has recovered hundreds of kilos of illegal drugs, assisted with the seizure of millions of dollars, recovered dozens of firearms discarded by offenders, assisted with dozens of seized vehicles and has participated in hundreds of community and school demonstrations.

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Dax has received the following awards: 2016 Illinois House of Representatives – General Assembly Award; 2017 ASIS International (Illinois North Shore Chapter) – Law Enforcement Officer of the Year; 2017 Chicago Crime Commission – Paws of Distinction Award; 2018 K9s of Valor Foundation – K9 of the Year; 2019 Lake County Board Special Recognition; 2019 The 100 Club of Chicago – Valor Award; May 14, 2019 State of Illinois House of Representatives 101st General Assembly – House Resolution No. 872 offered by Representative Sam Yingling; 2019 American Humane Hero Dog – Law Enforcement Winner; 2019 Italian American Police Association – Officer of the Year; 2022 State Senator Craig Wilcox – Certificate of Recognition; 2022 Lake County Sheriff’s Office – Commendation Award; 2022 Illinois Sheriff’s Association – Award of Merit; 2023 Lake County Sheriff’s Office – The Sheriff’s Award of Valor; 2023 Illinois Law Enforcement – Medal of Honor; and 2023 The German Shepherd Dog Club of America – Hero Dog Award.

During Dax’s career with the United States Police Canine Association (USPCA), he competed in several regional and national trials across the country.

Dax has earned numerous top finishes in the areas of tracking, article searches, narcotics, suspect searches, and protection.

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He won six USPCA Regional Championships and earned two Tracking Exceptional Certifications.

File Photo – Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy John Forlenza and Canine Dax | Provided Photo

Dax has appeared on numerous local and national news stations, including Fox Nation, NBC, A&E Network and ESPN.

Dax was injured on March 3 while apprehending a person who had committed several felonies and was fleeing near Zion.

Dax injured his neck and spine, which resulted in temporary paralysis in his hindquarters.

He was later diagnosed with cervical and thoracolumbar Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) and lumbosacral IVDD exasperated during his apprehension on March 3, Covelli said.

Dax went through intensive physical therapy following the injury, which allowed him to regain the ability to walk and use his hind legs.

Covelli said Dax’s team of veterinarians determined he would not be able to return to active duty for his physical well-being.

Sheriff John Idleburg accepted Dax’s official retirement request from Forlenza and ordered him to be turned over to Forlenza to enjoy his retirement.

Covelli said Dax will “undoubtedly miss” going to work every day but will enjoy relaxing with Forlenza and his family.

“There is no way to quantify or properly express what Dax’s service has meant to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, the Lake County community, his supporters across the nation, and especially me. But I cannot refrain from stating that his service has been exemplary, and most importantly, he has saved countless lives, including my own,” Forlenza said.

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“I am proud to have been his handler and best friend for the last nine years. Dax is a true hero and well deserving of the rest and love that waits for him in his retirement. I’d like to especially thank Dax’s supporters, team of veterinarians, trainers, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, and my family and friends for all their support throughout his career,” Forlenza added.

Idleburg said Forlenza and Dax “exemplify what a true partnership looks like.”

“They are among the top canine teams in the nation. There was virtually nothing K9 Dax couldn’t handle. He saved many lives throughout his career, apprehended some of the most violent offenders, and located major quantities of illegally trafficked drugs,” Idleburg said.

“On behalf of the men and women of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and the Lake County community, thank you, K9 Dax, for your dedication, your commitment, and your service to our community,” Idleburg added.