A beloved North Olmsted police officer has gone off to heaven to join other law enforcement personnel in a well-deserved rest.
Longtime K-9 officer Rico was put to sleep several days ago after a medical checkup showed internal bleeding and the likelihood of cancer, Police Chief Jamie Gallagher said. When he retired at age 11 in January 2010, Rico was the oldest serving police dog in the state. A Belgian Malinois, Rico was teamed with Bob Wagner in 2002. He retired shortly after Wagner was promoted to sergeant.
Like most police dogs, Rico went to live with his handler’s family after he retired. City policy allowed Wagner to buy Rico for $1, which he did. In January, the North Olmsted Senior Center had a retirement party for Rico, which drew a large crowd of city workers and well-wishers from the public.
Gallagher said things had gone well, but noted Wagner indicated Rico had slowed down somewhat in recent weeks.
“Some of that is normal when you have the type of career he did,” Gallagher said. “But Bob said he had gotten somewhat concerned about him recently, so he took him to the vet’s. Unfortunately, the news wasn’t good. It showed there was internal bleeding, so they decided to put him to sleep and not have him in pain.”
Gallagher said Wagner and the family decided not to have any public service or memorial, but appreciate the thoughts and good wishes of other people.
“We’re honoring their wishes to keep it private at this point,” he said.
During his career, Rico participated in hundreds of drug arrests and suspect chases. He also worked with the Secret Service and other state and federal law enforcement agencies on various assignments in the northern Ohio area throughout his career. He also drew crowds of children and well-wishers when with the general public.
“He was a great police dog and we’ll miss him,” Gallagher said. “Our thoughts are with Bob and the family.”
Patrolman Bill Saringer and his partner Rex are North Olmsted’s current K-9 team.