How about that Stryker? The six-and-a-half year old police dog, a Belgian Malinois in San Diego, made the ultimate sacrifice.
News reports yesterday said the dog’s handler chased down a suspect who was driving erratically. The driver had hit another vehicle, run a red light, and sped out onto the San Diego-Coronado Bridge. For whatever reason, the guy stopped and got out of his truck on the bridge, and the police officer sent Stryker.
The dog bit the man and took the suspect down, but then the man got up and jumped off the bridge — and took Stryker with him. The two fell into the cold ocean water 200 feet below.
Stryker did not survive the fall.
Earlier this year I received the sad news the passing of K9 Officer Cavar von der Zalens, who died in October due to an onset of cancer.
Cavar was Cajun’s littermate and lived with us until he was a year old. He learned basic tracking and obedience while he was here. He was donated to Detroit PD and was Officer Rob Huckestein’s first dog. The story of Cavar’s graduation and initiation into service is told in my book, CLIFFORD OF DRUMMOND ISLAND.
Despite being rookies together, the pair was unstoppable. Cavar won the Medal of Valor during his first year with the force. He was the department’s first dog to win this honor. He was Rob’s buddy and a constant companion to him and his eleven year old son.
For the next seven years, Cavar went on to earn a plethora of awards and accolades. He found countless amounts of narcotics and saved an untold number of lives.
Cavar was still working full time right up until the day before he died. On his last day of duty, he tracked down a murder suspect. He gave no indication that anything was wrong up until the next morning, when he was abnormally fatigued. Rob took him to the vet, and he was diagnosed with cancer throughout his body. He would not have even made it through the night, and was euthanized.
Cavar was a dog of great heart and courage and I am honored to have played a part in his life. He was greatly loved and will be dearly missed by all who knew him.
Right now Detroit PD has only two tracking dogs left on the team. And when it came to tracking, Cavar was always the dog requested. He was their best. I was told that Detroit PD has no budget to purchase blue-blooded dogs like Cavar. They take what they can get. Few police officers have time or knowledge to raise a puppy. They start with a dog who’s over ten months old. The dog then has to pass a rigorous health and fitness test, and must also have a strong work/retrieving drive. The police are less stringent on temperament, as most of the police K9s do not interact with the public.
After his fatal plummet to the icy water, Stryker’s body was retrieved. The suspect he was chasing was hospitalized. The man will be charged with a felony for causing the dog’s death and could be sentenced to up to four years in prison.
Four years? That’s it?
Isn’t it ironic that, in a court of law, the dog’s life would be valued less than the suspect’s? I wonder how much money it will cost the Oceanside Police Department to replace Stryker.
There is no way to put a value on these dogs. Who can say how much of a difference they have made? I suspect only their handlers have the vaguest of ideas.