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An animal carrier draped with an American Flag was carried away from the scene of Athens County Sheriff's Deputy John Kulchar's home. Kulchar lived with K9 unit Ryder.

K-9 Deputy dies in house fire

Richland Fire Department responded to a call of a fire on a property on Luhrig Road Thursday shortly after 1 p.m.

A K-9 Deputy, which was a recent addition to the Athens Police Department’s force, died Thursday afternoon in a house fire on the outskirts of Athens.

Ryder, a 4-year-old Belgian Malinois, was in Deputy John Kulchar’s home when the house caught fire, trapping the dog. An animal carrier draped with an American flag was taken from the house shortly after 2 p.m.

Firefighters from Richland, Waterloo and Chauncey responded to the fire at about 1 p.m. at 8384 Luhrig Rd., on the south side of Athens.

The State Fire Marshal's Office began an investigation into the cause of the fire Thursday afternoon, Lindsey Burnworth, a public information officer for the agency, said.

Athens County Sheriff Rodney Smith said more details about the fire will be available Friday.

Ryder was deployed for a narcotics investigation as recently as Wednesday, according to a report from the sheriff’s office.

The sheriff’s office purchased Ryder in late 2014 after Kulchar completed a six-week dog-handling training program, according to a previous Post report.

In late 2014, Kulchar said he was “very proud” of Ryder, adding that for him, handling dogs is “a way of life.”

The K-9 deputy was imported from France, and received commands in French. He was purchased for $11,500.

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