Gunnar was a Belgian Malinois who was born in June 2005. Gunnar and Officer Mike Ernst were partnered together in January of 2007 and certified as a canine handler team in March of 2007. Gunnar wasted little time in proving himself as an exceptional police K9 as evidenced by his first apprehension on April 14, 2007. Gunnar and Ernst responded to assist another Carlsbad officer with the arrest of a habitual drunk who had a history of violent confrontations with police. The contact immediately turned into a struggle as the suspect became violent towards one of the officers, striking him in the face causing minor injury. Given the felonious assault on the officer and the suspect’s violent, irrational behavior Gunnar was deployed to apprehend the violent suspect. Gunnar was able to apprehend the suspect without further risk of danger to public or police.
As the suspect was taken into custody by assisting officers, Gunnar and Ernst walked back to their police car amidst the cheers and congratulations of residents who were able to witness a once in a lifetime experience of seeing a police canine in action. Gunnar later made two more apprehensions in June 2007: one was a track of a suspect who had fled from a stolen vehicle after a brief police pursuit, and finally the apprehension of a felon who had jumped off a second story balcony to avoid apprehension but was later found by Gunnar and apprehended when he tried to barricade himself in a garage.
Gunnar was a big boy at almost 100 pounds! When not on duty, Gunnar was passionate about tennis balls, which unfortunately didn't last long, and a rubber Kong toy. He also enjoyed bacon and cheese flavored biscuits.
Words cannot describe the bond that is developed between canine handlers and their canine partners; Gunnar was much more than just a dog to Officer Ernst. He was a loyal partner, trusted friend, and more importantly a member of his family. Gunnar passed away unexpectedly on Nov. 6, 2008 after a brief illness. Officer Ernst represented the feelings of so many canine officers when he stated, “It pains me to think that the last thing he saw was the tears rolling down my face as I stood helplessly by as he took his final breath. But in sorrow there is also rejoice as there were so many things to rejoice about in the fond memories I have of my friend. Hopefully wherever he is there is an endless supply of tennis balls and somebody willing to throw the bite suit on for him. Gunnar, I will miss you my good friend.”