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Wood Dale's police dog Uta killed
Drug-tracking dog somehow hit by car near Elgin home
By Kat Zeman | Daily Herald Staff

Uta, a 2-year-old German shepherd with the Wood Dale Police Department's canine unit, was struck and killed Monday by a car in Elgin.


Courtesy of Wood Dale police

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Published: 4/3/2008 12:05 AM

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By the time Uta reached her second birthday, she had already helped bring numerous criminals to justice and sniffed out thousands of dollars' worth of drugs.

Crime fighting came naturally for the German shepherd who joined the Wood Dale Police Department in October.

But Uta Vom Ludwigstek's distinguished career proved to be tragically short. She died Monday after being hit by a car in Elgin.

"Everyone here is devastated," Wood Dale Deputy Police Chief Greg Vesta said Wednesday. "It was a horrible accident."

Details of the accident still are being pieced together. Police say they believe Uta somehow escaped from a fenced yard where she lived with her handler in Elgin.

"We don't know the circumstances completely yet," Vesta said.

Uta descended from a long blood line of German shepherds that dedicated their lives to law enforcement.

She was born in January 2006 in Germany, where she underwent police training in her first year of life. Last year, she attended a canine academy in Indiana before coming to Wood Dale.

Officers helped train her by hiding narcotics in the police building and teaching her to track a burglar and protect her human partner.

Uta's specialty was drug tracking and handler protection. She became an active member of the police force in December.

In recent weeks, she helped sniff out more than $408,000 worth of cocaine in DuPage County. She was a part of "Operation Scratch Off," a three-month investigation that resulted in the arrest of 24 people.

This past weekend, Uta helped Addison police search a building for drugs.

On a another recent job, the pooch sniffed out roughly $6,000 worth of crack cocaine and $5,000 in cash in Carol Stream. She's also conducted a few warrant searches at Fenton High School.

"In her short time, she's been very active," Vesta said. "We all adored her."

Replacing a police canine costs roughly $10,000. Uta was the third dog to work for Wood Dale since the creation of its canine unit in the early '90s. The purchase of another dog would require city council approval.