01/31/2007

Funeral to be held for Ga. police dog; 'life-saver' shot while chasing murder suspect

By George Chidi, Staff
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Oak Rest Pet Gardens and Gwinnett police are preparing for the funeral of Aryn, a 11-year-old police dog heralded as a life-saver.

Aryn was euthanized last week after a series of ongoing health problems. Police said it wasn't clear if those problems stemmed from gunshot wounds Aryn sustained in 2004.

The German shepherd was shot twice while chasing a murder suspect. Police killed the suspect with return gunfire. Aryn was credited with saving the life of his handler, Cpl. Mike Wadell, after the incident. Wadell adopted the dog as his own shortly after, when the Gwinnett County Police Department retired Aryn.

A service for Aryn will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Oak Rest Pet Gardens, 2691 Harbins Road, Bethlehem. The public is welcome to attend, police said.

The cemetery holds ceremonies for retired police animals three or four times a year, funeral service manager Kyle Shugart said. A flag-draped coffin and honor guard will be part of the ceremony, he said. K-9 officers from police departments around metro Atlanta typically attend, he said.

"We could have anywhere from around 70 people on up to a couple of hundred," he said. Turnout for Aryn's funeral may be difficult to predict, he said. "It varies from one K-9 to the next."

Police asked that donations be sent to the Cody Fund, care of Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia, 6500 Sugarloaf Parkway, Suite 220, Duluth, GA 30097. Private citizens established the fund to support Gwinnett County's K-9 unit.

Copyright 2007 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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