Retiring Onalaska K9-unit Czak

Retired Onalaska K9-unit Czak sits patiently alongside handler Dan McCluskey during a ceremony at the Onalaska City Hall last month.

The Onalaska Police Department waved goodbye last month toK-9 unit Czak, a German Shepard who retired after eight years with the department.

Since 2009, Czak working alongside his handler Dan McCluskey, was responsible for taking hundreds of calls, many leading to arrests.

Onalaska Police Chief Jeffery Trotnic said Czak’s diverse skill set made him an incredible asset to the department.

In one of his most memorable operations, Czak’s keen nose saved the life of wounded war veteran who was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

In 2013 McCluskey and Czak were called upon to assist the La Crosse Police Department located a suicidal subject who had slashed his wrists and run off into a wooded area near his home. Despite 92 degree temperatures and dry conditions, which made tracking difficult, the clever canine located the wounded vet in a little over five minutes.

Trotnic said this recovery was one of the shining moments in Czak’s career and went to show the amount of work officer McCluskey put into training him.

He said Czak’s primary purpose wasn’t tracking, so it was impressive how quickly he was able to recover the veteran.

“Czak can track, but that’s not his primary purpose,” Trotnic said. “Usually tracking is one of the things that K-9s aren’t as strong in unless they are actually a tracking dog.”

He said because of Czak, the veteran was able to get the treatment he needed.

During a ceremony at Onalaska City Hall last month, Mayor Joe Chilsen commended Czak for his service to the community.

After nearly a decade of service, Czak won’t be going far and will enjoy his retirement as part of McClusky’s family. Taking Czak’s place with the department is newcomer Muri, who will be working alongside officer Rick Elias.


Coulee Courier reporter

Tobias Mann is a reporter with the River Valley Media Group. He can be reached at or at 608-791-8216.

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