Rep. Weber, Illinois House honor Dax, Deputy Forlenza

Lake County Sheriff’s team recognized with adoption of House Resolution 703

State Rep. Martin McLaughlin (left to right), state Rep. Joyce Mason, Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy John Forlenza, House Minority Leader Tony McCombie and state Rep. Tom Weber.

SPRINGFIELD – On May 1 at the Illinois Capitol, state Rep. Tom Weber, R-Lake Villa, and the Illinois House of Representatives honored the service of decorated Lake County Sheriff’s K-9 Dax and his handler, Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy John Forlenza.

Dax and Forlenza were honored with the adoption of House Resolution 703 and Forlenza was recognized at the Capitol.

On the eve of his 10th birthday, Dax suffered injuries to his neck and spine while apprehending a fleeing repeat felon, forcing Dax’s retirement. Because of the extent of Dax’s injuries, the difficult decision was made to end his suffering April 12.

“Dax is one of the most decorated police K-9s in the history of our state,” Weber said in a news release. “It’s only fitting that we honor his service as we would any law enforcement officer who has done so much to save lives and protect our communities.

“He was truly a special dog, but none of his accomplishments would have been possible without the dedication and determination of his handler. It is a testament to the time and constant training Deputy Forlenza put in over the years that Dax was able to achieve so much. It was my honor to recognize them both on the House floor today and thank Deputy Forlenza for his service and work with Dax.”

Dax and Forlenza’s partnership has been credited with saving more than 400 lives and led to the seizure of millions of dollars, hundreds of kilos of illegal drugs, dozens of illegal firearms and dozens of vehicles.

Dax received numerous recognitions for his service over the years, including previously being recognized by the Illinois General Assembly, as well as earning the ASIS International-Illinois North Shore Chapter Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award in 2017, the Chicago Crime Commission Paws of Distinction in 2017, the K9′s of Valor Foundation K-9 of the Year in 2018, the 100 Club of Chicago Valor Award in 2019, the American Humane Hero Dog for Law Enforcement in 2019, the Italian American Police Association Officer of the Year in 2019, a Lake County Sheriff’s Commendation Award in 2022, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office Award for Valor in 2022, the Illinois Law Enforcement Medal of Honor in 2023 and The German Shepherd Dog Club of the Year Hero Dog Award in 2023.

Dax was a six-time winner of the U.S. Police Canine Association Championship and earned two Exceptional Tracking Certificates. He gained national fame for his service with numerous appearances on local and national TV, in addition to being featured in People Magazine and performing numerous demonstrations to teach the public about K-9 skills and the police profession.

“Dax was a very special dog and my best friend,” Forlenza said in the release. “I was fortunate to have been his handler for the past nine years and have him become a part of my family. We will miss him deeply, but I appreciate that we have been able to honor his accomplishments and all that he has done to help protect our communities.”

Shaw Local News Network

Shaw Local News Network

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