CAESAR CREEK STATE PARK — Pups will play at a planned dog park that will honor Jason Lagore, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) officer who died after he suffered a medical emergency while assisting with a missing person search at Rocky Fork State Park on Feb. 23, 2021.
The park will honor the life and contributions to Ohio State Parks by Lagore, as well as remembering his first K-9 partner, “Ranger.”
The Facebook page @LagoreMemorialDogPark states, “We are looking for contractors for the following projects at the Lagore Memorial Dog Park. The Friends of Ohio K9, Inc. needs help to begin this project. … If you are interested in this opportunity or you know a contractor that can help, please contact us ASAP!” for areas of need that include:
• Chain link fencing
• Brick pavers
• General contractor
Lagore responded to a call on Feb. 23, 2021, that two children had fallen through the ice at Rocky Fork Lake. A 13-year-old boy was rescued; a 15-year-old girl died.
Lt. Branden Jackman, public information officer for Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District, said at the time of the accident that around 6:26 p.m. on Feb. 23, Paint Creek’s Rainsboro station was dispatched to the area of South Lakeshore Drive for subjects that had fallen through the ice and were in immediate peril.
He said the accident took place at a private dock located on the north side of Rocky Fork Lake at the bottom of a steep incline that had compromised access, but a first responder was on the scene within 10 minutes of the call.
One male juvenile had attempted to rescue one female juvenile, Jackman reported, with the male juvenile able to self-rescue from the ice and water. The male juvenile was later ground transported to Highland District Hospital for treatment of hypothermia, and survived.
During the initial phase of the rescue, LaGore, 38, of Warren County, suffered a medical emergency and was transported via ground ambulance to Highland District Hospital, where he later died.
“Officer Lagore began his ODNR career in 2005 when he joined the Division of Parks and Watercraft in 2005 and worked at both Caesar Creek and Cowan Lake state parks,” states the Facebook page @LagoreMemorialDogPark.
“In 2011, Officer Lagore began working and training with his first canine partner, Ranger. Officer Lagore attended Police Dog Services and completed police K-9 training. Throughout K-9 Ranger’s service life, this highly effective team of canine and officer was involved in numerous missing person searches. Highlights of their work include 21 cadaver finds and locating nearly an ounce of heroin. Officer Lagore and K-9 Ranger also received a life-saving award for locating a missing 88-year-old diabetic male.”
The article on the Facebook page continues, “As Officer Lagore worked with his K-9 partner, he began advocating for the use of additional K-9 teams across ODNR and other law enforcement agencies. In January 2017, Officer Jason Lagore coordinated the first Ohio State Park’s Canine Academy, which resulted in graduating two new K-9s.
”In the recent past, Officer Lagore was instrumental in training additional K-9’s for the ODNR’s divisions of Parks and Watercraft and Wildlife, as well as other agencies across Ohio. Because of his expertise, instruction skills, enthusiasm, and advocacy, ODNR now has 10 K-9 units assisting traditional law enforcement officers.
“As K-9 Ranger reached retirement age, Officer Lagore trained a new K-9 partner, Sarge, who replaced K-9 Ranger in 2018. Working with both K-9s, Officer Lagore’s efforts resulted in more than 40 positive finds for cadavers and hundreds of searches for other Ohio law enforcement agencies. The work done by Officer Lagore and his K-9 partners provided closure or relief for dozens of Ohio families.
“It cannot be said enough — Officer Lagore’s wealth of knowledge about training police canines is irreplaceable. In addition to committing hundreds of hours training his own canines, he routinely answered calls for service for a total of more than 400 K-9 team responses. …
“Today, his K-9 partner, Sarge, is retired from service and living with Officer Lagore’s wife and children. Because of his dedication and hard work, Officer Lagore and his K-9 partners leave a strong legacy for other ODNR K-9 units to follow. Because of his commitment to excellence and public service, ODNR’s law enforcement canine teams are professional, well-respected, and highly effective units they are today.”
Car show fundraiser upcoming
The Friends of Ohio K9 Inc. is planning a car show to raise funds for the project, set for Sunday, Oct. 16 at the Caesar Creek State Park Beach parking lot.
The event will include rides, raffles, music, food, and a tribute to Lagore. There will also be a dog watering area and dog beach access.
Registration is 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. ($15 per entry) with judging 1-3 p.m. and trophies at 4 p.m.
The event will open at noon, when the tribute will take place.
For more information, visit the Facebook page @LagoreMemorialDogPark.