Retired K-9 deputy Jeck passes away

By Michael Johnson -

Former K-9 deputy Jeck is shown sitting in front of a Gallia County Sheriff's Office cruiser.

GALLIPOLIS — The law enforcement community in southeastern Ohio is giving a final salute to retired Gallia County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Deputy Jeck.

Jeck, a German shepherd, died Tuesday of old age, according to his handler, Officer Richard Harrison, the Village of Rio Grande Police Department’s K-9 handler.

Harrison said he worked with Jeck, a former show dog, since 2007 when he was employed with the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office. Harrison said he couldn’t have asked for a better dog and partner.

“Jeck was a good-natured dog. When it came to other animals, kids and people in general … he liked people,” he said. “When it was time to go to work, it was all about business. He loved to go to work. If he worked a 16-hour day, he ‘d want to work some more.”

Harrison said he buried Jeck at his home Tuesday, adding that there are no current plans to conduct a memorial in honor. He said he plans to purchase a headstone for Jeck.

“Gallia County lost an important member of our law enforcement team,” a post states on the Facebook page of Gallia County Prosecutor Jeff Adkins. “Jeck served Gallia County so well over the years, serving alongside Richard Harrison. Countless prosecutions were made possible by the great work of Jeck and his handler. You will be missed. E.O.W. 9-20-2016.”

Jeck (pronounced “Jack”) served GCSO for six years and retired in 2013. He is best remembered in the Ohio Valley for an incident in 2011 in which he was stabbed twice in the neck during a suspect apprehension. The suspect, Kelly Krebs, led law enforcement on a manhunt stretching between Vinton and Meigs counties. Jeck was brought in to track down Krebs, who assaulted a Vinton County deputy, kidnapped a Vinton County K9 when he stole a marked Vinton County Sheriff’s Office SUV, wrecked the SUV and then fled on foot into Meigs County.

According to a story published in January 2011, once Krebs fled on foot in Columbia Township, Harrison, a sergeant with GCSO at the time, deployed Jeck in an attempt to track the suspect. During the track, it is believed Krebs attacked or struggled with Jeck and twice stabbed him in the neck, causing severe bleeding.

Krebs was not captured at the time, but was later taken into custody by the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Despite the injuries, Harrison told the newspaper that Jeck continued to track Krebs and had to be called off the track to obtain medical aid.

“He wouldn’t quit,” Harrison said Wednesday. “I had to pick him up because he was losing large amounts of blood.”

Jeck was rushed to a local veterinarian before being transported to The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, where doctors worked to save the dog’s life. Emergency veterinarian Dr. Michelle Goodnight, of the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine, said at the time, “This is an injury that could have been fatal. Everyone did the right thing to save his life.”

During Krebs’ trial, Jeck took the stand and presented “testimony” by showing his neck wounds, which were still wrapped in bandages at the time.

Krebs was sentenced by a Meigs County judge to 15 years in prison on multiple charges, including felony assault on a police dog. Assault on a law enforcement dog is a felony of the fourth-degree under Ohio Revised Code 2921.321.

Within two weeks, Jeck was back in service working narcotics. Within three months, he was back into full service performing apprehensions and suspect take-downs.

Harrison said during his two-week stint on light duty, Jeck “engaged and apprehended” a burglary suspect.

“He held one (suspect) while I was wrestling with the other (suspect),” he said. “Jeck was a beast. He was one of a kind. He was hard core. He was all about work and family.”

Harrison said Jeck was the first “successful” K-9 officer to work with the sheriff’s office and the first to retire from the office.

“We are saddened to learn of the passing of retired GCSO K-9 Jeck,” Gallia County Sherrif Joe Browning wrote on GCSO’s Facebook page. “Jeck was retired from service in January 2013, after having been previously injured in the line of duty. Our condolences go out to his handler and family. EOW 9-20-2016.”

Browning said GCSO currently has three K-9s – Bundi, owned by special Deputy Steve Heater and commissioned by GCSO; Thunder, a county-owned canine purchased with drug forfeiture funds; and Chan, who is in use with GCSO’s Vinton village contract deputy.

“He was a smart dog,” Harrison said. “I’m going to miss him.”

Browning said condolences may be posted on the sheriff’s Facebook page.

Former K-9 deputy Jeck is shown sitting in front of a Gallia County Sheriff’s Office cruiser. K-9 deputy Jeck is shown sitting in front of a Gallia County Sheriff’s Office cruiser.

By Michael Johnson

Reach Michael Johnson at 740-446-2342, ext. 2102, or on Twitter @OhioEditorMike.

Reach Michael Johnson at 740-446-2342, ext. 2102, or on Twitter @OhioEditorMike.