Following a second biting incident in his three-year career, the Forest Park Police Department’s police dog, Killian, has been retired.
Police Chief Tom Aftanas said he made the decision after Killian bit a member of his handler’s family last month. In June 2015, a man attending a demonstration at the Bob Haeger All-School Picnic suffered a puncture wound to his wrist after being bitten by Killian.
The Forest Park Village Council approved Killian’s retirement by a 4-0 vote at Monday’s meeting, deeming him no longer fit for public service. Commissioner Joseph Byrnes did not attend.
Aftanas said Killian has performed well in searches of buildings and vehicles and noted the police department has benefited from seizures of cash and drugs that the dog has discovered. Following the 2015 incident, Killian was no longer used in demonstrations.
However, the liability involved has become too much, he added.
If Forest Park needs a police dog’s services, Aftanas said they would make a mutual aid request to neighboring police departments. He said police departments in Berwyn and Oak Park have canine units.
Officer Dan Miller, Killian’s handler, declined an offer to keep the dog, and Killian has been living in a kennel since last month.
Although he did not dispute the decision, Miller said losing his partner of three years is “horrible,” noting he spent more time with Killian than he did with his family over that period. Miller also served as handler for two previous Forest Park police dogs, Bear and Diesel.
Aftanas said the department has had police dogs on and off since Hammer joined the force in the 1990s. Diesel stayed with Miller after his retirement for medical reasons in 2014. Another police dog named Sam was also on the force for six years between Hammer and Bear.
Miller also spoke highly of Killian’s police work.
“He was phenomenal, which just makes it harder,” he said, noting Killian apprehended seven or eight suspects; assisted with seizure of $3 million in drug money; and assisted in the seizure of weapons and drugs, including marijuana, ecstasy, heroin and cocaine.
Miller said he and Killian spent over 16 hours per month training to maintain certification from a number of organizations, including the North American Police Work Dog Association and Delaware County in Indiana.
Stacey Vanderkam, who lives in Lansing and serves as an officer with the Matteson Police Department, will purchase Killian for $1. Aftanas said Vanderkam, who is a military veteran, met Killian at the kennel where he is staying. Aftanas added he believes Killian will be Vanderkam’s pet and not used for police work.
Miller said he made Killian’s availability known to other police departments, two of which expressed interest, but he could not arrange for the animal to continue his law enforcement career.
Aftanas said no decision has been made regarding replacing Killian but said he will investigate the possibility.
Miller said he’s “pushing” for another police dog, noting, “I love it.”