Cadaver dog shot, dies from injuries

FREEBURG, Ill. – A dog specially trained to assist law enforcement in locating human remains has died after someone shot him last week. It is believed Rowdy was shot with an airsoft rifle at close range.

Rowdy’s family tells Fox 2 he died late Friday night. The Freeburg Police Department posted this to its Facebook page:

“The Freeburg Police Department is looking for the public’s assistance in locating the person / persons responsible for shooting ‘Rowdy,’ a black lab mix, who was a Nationally Certified Human Remains Detection Canine with Gateway Search Dogs. This occurred on August 7, 2018, at approximately 5:00 P.M. in an area near the Meadowbrook Subdivision. Since then, ‘Rowdy’ has passed away due to the injuries sustained from this. There is a REWARD for information leading to the arrest and charges being filed of the person / persons responsible for this incident.”

Jan Meyer, President of Gateway Search Dogs, said the reward for information leading to the suspects has reached $3,000 and continues to grow.

“All of us veterinarians are shocked that this much damage could be done by an airsoft rifle,” said Megan Baebler, Associate Veterinarian at the Animal Emergency Center, who performed Rowdy’s emergency surgery.

Marla Vollmer said she let her two dogs, Rowdy and Ruby, out on their property in Freeburg, Illinois on August 7th. When Vollmer called them back in, Ruby returned but Rowdy did not. She knew something was wrong.

She saw Rowdy lying in the yard close to the road. When she called to him again, he lifted his head and wagged his tail, but still did not move.

Vollmer immediately got the truck, scooped Rowdy up, and took him to the 24-hour emergency veterinarian.

“We had no idea at the time that he`d be shot,” said Vollmer.

Baebler believes Rowdy was shot at close range. She said the pellet went into his left side, through the muscle and his small intestine four times, creating eight holes, before becoming lodged in his right side.

Baebler was unable to remove the pellet due to the extensive internal damage.

“Two of those holes were not repairable, and I ended up having to take about an eight-inch long section of his intestines out, and then suture those ends back together in order to save Rowdy`s life,” said Baebler.

Vollmer rescued Rowdy as a puppy from the Belleville Humane Society. Months later, the two began training with Gateway Search Dogs.

After nearly two years, Rowdy became a certified human remains detection dog, otherwise known as a cadaver dog. For the past six years, the pair have volunteered their time and talents with law enforcement agencies across the bi-state area on about 35 cases.

Vollmer’s home is located in a subdivision with other families and dogs. They have no idea who would want to do something like this to their beloved pet.

The Vollmer’s want answers and to bring awareness to the dangers of airsoft guns.

“You can`t treat (airsoft guns) like toys. These are not toys,” she said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Freeburg Police Department at 618-539-3132.