Middletown's K9 "Gunner" with a handler. (Photo provided by Middletown Police)
Flames broke out Monday in this barn where Gunner was kept in the 5900 block of No Man Road. (FOX19/G.Graham)
The Middletown Police Department K-9 "Gunner" died in a Butler County barn fire Monday.
Police confirmed the German shepherd's death in a tweet sent out about 7:30 p.m.
Flames broke out just before 2 p.m. in a barn where Gunner was kept in the 5900 block of No Man Road in Madison Township. The fire's intensity prevented the animal from escaping through an exit door to his outside kennel, said Sgt. Andy Warrick.
The blaze completely destroyed the barn, which had already collapsed when firefighters arrived.
The fire remains under investigation, but a heat lamp or the wiring to the heat lamp used to keep the dog warm amid frigid temperatures this week are under investigation as potential causes.
Gunner was 7 1/2 years old and had served as Middletown's K-9 since June 2009. He recently was named the Top Detector Canine in the Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and West Virginia region of the United States Police Canine Association.
“Unfortunately being human we grow attached to them, they become part of the family, they become your partner. You figure just the work day itself you're spending eight hours a day with that dog," said Warrick. "We probably spend more time with the dog than we do our family.”
Middletown police will hold an 11 a.m. Wednesday memorial service for Gunner at the department's canine facility, 1340 Runway Maintenance Rd.
A police union president is establishing a fund to help pay to replace the department's K-9. Donations can be sent to: FOPA Lodge #2, P.O. Box 1218, Middletown, Ohio 45042.