A K-9,named Gunner, at the Middletown Police Department died in a barn fire Monday, officials said. "MPD lost a fantastic
and loyal K9 today in Gunner. Officers will wear mourning bands in his honor," the police department said on Twitter. 
The fire began in a barn where Gunner slept at night. He was unable to get to the exit because of the fire, police said
in a news release.  The Madison Fire Department responded to the fire around 1:50 p.m. Monday.
The barn had completely collapsed by the time crews arrived.
The fire is still being investigated, but crews believe the fire was started by a heat lamp or the wiring
of the heat lamp that kept Gunner warm.

In 2014, he was named Top Detector canine for Region #5 by the U.S. Police Canine Association.
 That region includes Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana and Kentucky. 
Police said memorial services for Gunner will
be conducted 11 a.m. Wednesday at the department's K-9 training area.
The Middletown Police Department has two K-9 units, according to its
website
.

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What Gunner lacked in first impression he made up in police work. After Gunner, a Middletown canine officer, was purchased
for $6,500 in 2009, he was transported from North Carolina to Middletown in a police cruiser. They stopped about every
100 miles so the dog could rest and be brushed, said Sgt. Andy Warrick, the department’s canine supervisor. The more they
brushed, the thinner Gunner looked. By the time they arrived in Middletown and pulled into the Middletown Division of
Police parking lot, they were greeted by officers and administrators. Warrick remembers their response: “We paid how much
 for what?”
 

On Wednesday morning, the canine police community gathered for a memorial service for Gunner, who was killed Monday afternoon
 in a barn house in Madison Twp. on the property of his handler, Middletown police Officer Dennis Jordan. Jordan said he placed
 Gunner in the barn for a short time while he ate lunch, and by the time he was alerted the barn was on fire, it was too late
 for him to rescue Gunner, a 7-year-old German Shepherd. The fire is still under investigation, but it’s believed a heater
 used to keep Gunner warm was the source of the fire, Warrick said. 

More than 20 police canine officers representing surrounding cities and counties attended the ceremony at the Middletown canine
 training facility. Throughout the 30-minute ceremony, the sound of barking dogs was heard. Warrick said Jordan and
Gunner trained for 12 weeks and Gunner was responsible for making several felony arrests throughout his six-year career,
 including tracking down two armed suspects who carjacked a vehicle in Montgomery County then fled into Middletown.
Gunner uncovered narcotics in the stolen car, then tracked down a second suspect. Warrick called that “outstanding police work.”
 

Last summer, Gunner was named the top detector in the narcotics division at the U.S. Police Canine Association Regional
competition in Kentucky. He was set to compete in the nationals this year. At the end of the memorial service, Warrick
slowly handed a folded American flag to Jordan, who was sitting next to his wife, Middletown police Officer Holly
Owens-Jordan, their two children, Tyler and Logan, and his father-in-law, Donnie Owens, a retired Middletown police
 officer. Jordan called Gunner “one of a kind.”

Gunner’s death leaves the city with one police canine, Aki.  

His handler, police Officer Marco Caito, in his third year, said there is “a special bond” between an officer and his dog.
 He said it’s like the relationship people form with their house pet “times infinity.” “They become your family,” he said
 while standing outside his cruiser. Caito said as he drove his cruiser to the ceremony, down a familiar gravel road,
 Aki circled in the back of the cruiser. “He knew it was time to play and work,” Caito said. “He knows he has a job to do.”
 The local Fraternal Order of Police Associates is in the process of collecting donations to cover the police dog’s final costs,
 such as his burial and headstone, as well as for the costs of purchasing and training of a new police dog, Warrick said.

The Fraternal Order of the Police is setting up a fund to help replace Gunner.
Donations can be sent to FOPA Lodge #2, PO Box 1218, Middletown, OH 45202.