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The American Kennel Club (AKC®), a not-for-profit organization, the world’s largest purebred dog registry and leading advocate for dogs, is honored to recognize K9 Ivanka of NWI K9 Search & Recovery in Munster, Indiana, and K9 Barrett of the Montville Connecticut Police Department with the American Kennel Club’s 2023 DOG-NY Paw of Courage Award.  


The AKC DOG-NY Paw of Courage expresses appreciation for the work that dogs do in the service of humankind, is not specific to purebred dogs, and can be presented to Police K-9s, Military Working Dogs, and dogs who have demonstrated a heroic act. These awards recognize dogs who serve their communities honorably, making great impacts in the lives of their human counterparts.  


“The American Kennel Club is deeply honored to present this award to these two very deserving canines,” said AKC Executive Secretary, Gina DiNardo. “K9 Ivanka and K9 Barrett are shining examples of dogs who serve their communities and keep them safe every day. Today, we honor their commitment and dedication.” 


K-9 Ivanka, NWI K9 Search & Recovery, Munster IN  


K-9 Ivanka is a four-year-old German Shepherd Dog that is certified through the American Working Dog Association in Human Remains detection. She has assisted the ATF, local law enforcement, local fire and more in the past year alone. She was able to assist in identifying the location of a burial site of a young boy from 40 years prior. K9 Ivanka and handler Stephanie Baker are volunteers and are not paid and bring closure to families.   


Ivanka has never met a person she doesn’t like. Giving back to the community is something she and her handler take great pride in. K9 Ivanka has assisted on confidential cases for the ATF, FBI, and local law enforcement. She also assisted with two house explosions in Lake Station, Indiana.

K-9 Barrett, Montville Police Department, CT

K9 Officer Witts and K9 Barrett have successfully located narcotics, firearms, wanted suspects and missing persons. In May of 2020 K9 Barrett was exposed to fentanyl and became the third working police dog in the U.S. to be saved by Narcan.

In December 2021, K9 Officer Witts and K9 Barrett arrived at an accident scene first and observed the male driver take what appeared to be a two-handed shooting stance and point a firearm directly at him.

K9 Officer Witts gave the man commands to drop the gun, but the man fled into the woods and K9 Barrett was released to chase him. K9 Barrett engaged the suspect as trained by biting him in the leg. The suspect then began to punch K9 Barrett in the face, causing damage to K9 Barrett’s eyes. Officer Witts caught up and a violent struggle ensued between Officer Witts and the suspect, who was eventually taken into custody with the assistance of Troopers. It was later discovered that the suspect was a convicted felon.

As a result of the assault, K9 Barrett began experiencing seizures, diagnosed as a brain bleed.  K9 Barrett was placed on medication, however the prognosis worsened with the brain bleed growing. Despite the effects of his injury, K9 Barrett continues to report to work, eager to serve Montville and the state.

To learn more and nominate a dog for a Paw of Courage award, click here.