VILLA PARK – Det. Bryan Hruby isn’t sad about his partner of eight years retiring from the Villa Park Police Department. In fact, he feels happy and honored to have worked with Inoe, a 10-year-old Belgian Malinois. Inoe officially retired from the force earlier this month.
“Working with him was a way of life, and I’m so happy with what we accomplished as a team,” said Hruby, 38. “I was fortunate enough to be with him. I’m glad he retired without any health problems.”
Inoe’s last public appearance was Aug. 4 at National Night Out. Hruby said the public was invited to come see Inoe one more time before his retirement.
“Everyone wants to pet him and say hi," Hruby said. “He’s a social dog, and I know I could take him into any situation.”
Inoe helped the Police Department apprehend suspects and recover about $1 million in drug assets, Hruby said. The department keeps a percentage of money recovered from drug operations.
“The dog, if it’s worked right, can make the department money,” Hruby said. “He was in the squad car and went everywhere with me. He responded to calls and narcotics investigations.”
He explained that Inoe once helped find a missing girl in Lombard during the middle of winter. Inoe was able to trace her scent.
“The Lombard police chief wrote me a letter saying if it wasn’t for Inoe, that girl probably wouldn’t be alive now,” Hruby said. “The girl was wearing only sweatpants and didn’t know where she was going.”
Villa Park Police Chief Robert Pavelchik said the dog’s keen sense of smell is a tool in the department’s arsenal.
“The dogs make a difference. It’s great for our organization and for the community,” he said. “The department will miss him and his service. When you lose any asset, it’s tough. And he’s been an asset to the village.”
A $15,000 grant from the state of Illinois in 2007 helped the department acquire Inoe, who was 2 years old at the time. Hruby said the initial cost to get the dog was about $50,000.
Hruby, who’s been a Villa Park officer since 2002, always knew he wanted to become a K-9 officer, so he was eager to apply once he learned of the opportunity. Inoe had already received police training when Hruby got him, but Hruby said he had to “refine” Inoe and train him to Villa Park police standards.
“I’ve always been interested in seeing how the dogs can use their talents with a police officer, and words can’t describe how I felt when I found out they chose me,” he said. “It’s the most amazing thing. He could feed off my energy. He knew if there was a problem or if we were going into a bad situation.”
Pavelchik described Inoe as a very relaxed dog. He said Inoe wasn’t aggressive, unlike some other police dogs he’s seen.
“He’s very friendly and personable, and when he wasn’t working, people could come up and pet him. But when he was working, he was all business. He did the job he was trained to do,” he said.
Hruby said he began to notice Inoe “slowing down” earlier this year, so he thought this was a good time for Inoe to retire at the end of the summer. Inoe now lives with Hruby, who began his new position as the school resource officer at Willowbrook High School shortly after Inoe retired.
“He’s 10 so that’s like working with a 70 year-old, and I didn’t want to work him until he dies,” he explained. “I want him to enjoy the rest of his life at home. He’s more than a dog to me.”
The Villa Park Police Department doesn’t have any immediate plans to acquire another dog. It’s up to the Villa Park Village Board to make the decision to get a new dog, Pavelchik said.
Hruby said he would encourage any police department to have a K-9 Unit.
“The decision isn’t up to me, but I know the Police Department was happy with the dog and his performance. It’s definitely a wise investment,” he said.