Public Safety

Linn County K-9 retiring after nearly 10 years of active service

Linn County Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Louis poses with his K-9 partner Gompie. The pair worked together for almost 10 years before Gompie retired last week because of health issues.  (Photo courtesy of Heidi Richards Photography)
Linn County Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Louis poses with his K-9 partner Gompie. The pair worked together for almost 10 years before Gompie retired last week because of health issues. (Photo courtesy of Heidi Richards Photography)
/

“I do miss having him with me,” Linn County Deputy Kevin Louis said of his K-9 partner Gompie, who retired from the sheriff’s office last week.

“We’ve worked together for the past 9.5 years, and it’s tough riding around in my patrol car and not seeing him over my shoulder all the time and knowing he’s got my back.”

Gompie, a 12-year-old Belgian Malinois, joined the Linn County Sheriff’s Office in August 2009 as a dual-purpose patrol and narcotics detection dog. The sheriff’s office said Gompie was born in Holland in 2007 and trained at Vohne Liche Kennels in Indiana.

“He chose me to take him for a walk, and that’s when I knew he was the dog I wanted to work with,” Louis said of the day he met Gompie at Vohne Liche Kennels. “I think he was waiting for me to pick him.”

Louis said Gompie’s composure and calm demeanor stood out.

“I got to look at several dogs while I was there, and when I looked at Gompie and took him for a walk, I knew he was the dog,” Louis said. “He seemed like a social and loving dog. And the way he looked at me and the way he walked with me, I knew this was the dog I wanted to partner with.”

Louis said he and Gompie have done more stops and searches than he can count, but a couple of incidents stick out as proud moments.

In 2012, Louis said he and Gompie were searching storage garages when the dog alerted to the presence of narcotics at one of the unit doors.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Linn County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Chad Colston said the office had received a tip of possible illegal activity, but when officers went to the area, they found nothing.

That’s when Louis and Gompie stepped in, the major said.

“They started searching all the storage units in town,” he said. “And then one day, they were searching another facility, and Gompie alerts on one of the unit doors.”

With a warrant in hand, Colston said deputies opened the unit and found 24 pounds of “high-grade marijuana.”

“That was a huge deal for us,” Louis said.

The next year, in March, Colston said Louis and Gompie were watching a house in the Palo area where suspects in a series of firearm thefts were believed to be.

“They were there for hours waiting for people to leave the residence so that maybe they could find a reason to do a traffic stop,” he said.

Finally, a vehicle left and Louis made the stop. During an open-air sniff of the car, Louis said Gompie alerted to the presence of drugs inside.

“When we searched the vehicle, we found a meth lab inside, and the people inside the car ended up giving us information about the burglaries,” Louis said.

“That whole incident — the traffic stop and the information the people in the car gave — led to a search warrant for the house and we ended up recovering about 40 percent of the stolen guns,” Colston said. “And that’s because Deputy Louis and Gompie had the patience to sit there and watch that house. ... Their actions resulted in information that helped us crack a pretty decent-sized gun burglary case.”

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Thank you for signing up for our e-newsletter!

You should start receiving the e-newsletters within a couple days.

“Gompie was a clearheaded dog,” Colston said. “He knew what he needed to do without being told and he truly cares about Deputy Louis and his affection. You could easily see there was a really strong bond between the two.”

In 2013, Gompie suffered a potentially career-ending injury. Veterinarians found a bone spur on his spine that was pinching a nerve and would require surgery to fix.

At that time, it was doubtful that Gompie would return to duty, Louis said, but Gompie came through surgery and returned to work within two months.

Since then, however, Gompie has suffered other health problems that ultimately led to his retirement.

Louis said the dog, who will remain in his care, is adjusting to life as a “normal family dog.”

“He loves being at home and playing with my kids, but I can see that he also misses going to work,” Louis said. “He sees me getting ready for work, and I feel bad that he’s sitting there looking at me and he can’t come with me.”

“It’s been an adjustment for me too,” Louis added. “... I’m definitely going to miss working with him.”

Sheriff Brian Gardner said Louis, who has been with the department nearly 18 years, has transferred out of the K-9 division and now is working in the civil division, leaving the sheriff’s office with two K-9 teams.

The sheriff said he plans to replace Gompie but has no timetable as to when.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

“We’re looking for candidates and we’re looking at training facilities,” he said. “But I’m not going to rush it. These dogs are significant investments, so we want to make sure we find the right candidate and then pair that officer with the right dog.”

Police K-9s typically cost about $15,000 depending on training. Additional costs can include outfitting a police cruiser for the K-9, equipping the handler with certain tools, and, if necessary, equipping the officer’s home for the dog to live with his handler.

l Comments: (319) 398-8238; kat.russell@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.