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Hero Down: Leelanau County Sheriff’s K9 Nico Dies After Brief Illness

Leelanau County, MI – Leelanau County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) K9 Nico died on Nov. 2, 2021, following a brief illness, according to his department.

K9 Nico was just days away from his 11th birthday when he passed away, the LCSO said in a Facebook post the following day.

“It is with great sadness that the Leelanau County Sheriff’s Office announces the passing of K-9 Nico to natural causes,” the sheriff’s office said. “Nico passed away on 11-2-21 after a short medical battle at the home of his handler / owner Sergeant Greg Hornkohl.”

K9 Nico served the LCSO for eight years.

The sheriff’s office had not had a K9 for many years prior to him joining the department.

“He touched the hearts of many community members and guests during his time in service,” the LCSO’s post read. “He will be greatly missed.”

K9 Nico, a German shepherd born in Italy, joined the LCSO thanks to a grand from the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, the Leelanau Ticker reported.

He served alongside Sgt. Hornkohl since 2013.

In addition to narcotics detection, K9 Nico also successfully tracked people suffering from dementia who wandered off, located lost children, and found hikers who lost their way in the sand dunes, the Leelanau Ticker reported.

Sgt. Hornkohl told the paper back in 2020 that he and K9 Nico practiced tracking skills on a daily basis.

“We do stuff every day,” the sergeant said. “I’ll send my kids to the woods, where Nico invariably finds them.”

K9 Nico underwent surgery in 2020 to have a benign five-pound tumor removed from his spleen, the Leelanau Ticker reported.

He returned to duty several weeks later.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Leelanau County Sheriff’s Office and Sgt. Hornkohl in the loss of K9 Nico.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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