Puyallup’s police force is mourning one of its own.
Chance, a nearly 6-year-old German shepherd who worked as a tracking dog, died unexpectedly Tuesday during a routine veterinary procedure. The exact cause of death isn’t yet known. He had a back ailment common to his breed and was sedated while undergoing an MRI scan, said police Capt. Dave McDonald.
Chance began working in December 2007 and had the same handler, Officer Gary Shilley, his entire career. Shilley was shot during a traffic stop in 2006, spent a year recovering, and named his dog because of his brush with death.
Chance was sent out more than 250 times to track suspects fleeing crimes such as assault and robbery, and he made 51 captures, McDonald said. Like other Puyallup police dogs, he helped with incidents around the county.
He also visited local schools, participated in community events and “seemed to like attention from good citizens,” McDonald said.
Police Chief Bryan Jeter said his department was “deeply saddened.” In a statement, he called Chance and Shilley “a phenomenal crime-fighting duo.”
The department has two other police dogs, including Daro, a German shepherd who’s retiring after more than nine years. Daro was stabbed in the leg and cut on the head in 2010 by an armed suspect he was tracking.
“These dogs are there to capture the person being pursued and to help protect their officer. They are a valuable asset to us,” said City Councilman Steve Vermillion, who mentioned Chance’s death during Tuesday’s council meeting. “It’s a loss to the department, and I can’t help but think of the officer who bonded with him all those years.”
A new German shepherd is joining the force as Daro’s replacement. He’ll soon go through training and hopefully will begin work in September, McDonald said.
He said the department will hold a memorial for Chance. McDonald said the police force wants to replace Chance and will look at ways to do so, including possibly outside donations.sara.schilling @thenewstribune.com