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St. Clair Shores

May 3, 2013

St. Clair Shores Police Department, community says goodbye to Chase

Newest K-9 dead at 3 years old

By Kristyne E. Demske
C & G Staff Writer

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The St. Clair Shores Police Department said goodbye to Police K-9 Chase May 1 in a memorial service at Blossom Heath Park.
 

Surrounded by family, friends and supporters, the St. Clair Shores Police Department said goodbye to Police K-9 Chase May 1 in a memorial service at Blossom Heath Park.

“He performed admirably and did a wonderful job,” said Police Chief Michael Walleman.

Lt. Steve Lambert, director of the traffic division of the department and overseer of the K-9 unit, said Chase had abdominal problems the last week of April and had to be rushed into emergency surgery.

The condition was life-threatening but he was showing signs of improvement after the surgery and so released back to his handler, Officer Gerald Chomos, to go home.

Unfortunately, Lambert said, on April 23, Chase began to decline again, and a veterinary specialist in Southfield made the determination that nothing further could be done for the dog. He was euthanized April 24 at 3 years old.

Lambert said the problem with intestinal blood-flow that caused Chase’s death is a trait found in some German shepherds, but it is not any more common than problems found in other pure-bred dogs.

Chomos and Chase became a team Aug. 23, 2011, and were on the streets after completing training in January 2012.

“He was just an energetic dog and he was learning every day,” Lambert said. “He was just great with kids, great with the public. All facets that they teach him, he was very good at, and he was only going to get better.”

During the memorial service for Chase, St. Clair Shores Police Department Chaplain James Friedman spoke about the unique bond between humans and animals.

“In some cases, they’re closer to us than people are,” he said. “These fine dogs work along with these brave men and women to make sure peace is made.”

Walleman said he understood that bond between officer and K-9 well; he is a former a K-9 officer.

“The amount of effort and work that goes into being a K-9 officer … is very difficult to do,” he said. “It is the most prideful duty I have ever had the opportunity to perform.”

He said the duty is hard for handlers and K-9s alike. The dog goes home with the officer every night and the pair can be called upon in the middle of the night to come and assist with a search. But at the same time, the dog has to be able to transition quickly from police to personal duties.

“These dogs, one minute they’re apprehending a fleeing suspect, and the next moment, they’re at a carnival and the kids are falling all over them,” Walleman said. “They definitely steal the show.”

More than a dozen police officers from throughout metro Detroit and their K-9 counterparts showed up to support Chomos and the St. Clair Shores Police Department.

“They go home with us. It’s like losing a member of your family,” said Romulus Police Officer Allen Hays, with police K-9 Bosco. “It’s probably as close to losing an officer in the line of duty” as you can get.

“Chase was a hard-working dog,” said Redford Township Police Officer Jennifer Mansfield. She and her police K-9, Maverick, trained with Chomos and Chase at the K-9 Academy Training Facility in Wayne, Mich.

She said losing his dog so soon was like losing a partner for Chomos.

“It’s a reality check for the rest of us that it can happen so young,” Mansfield said.

St. Clair Shores still has one other K-9 unit on the streets — Officer Chris Periatt and Hondo.

Periatt said Chase’s death was a tragedy.

“They’re almost like your child, and you want them to have a full life,” he said.

Walleman said the department will be getting another dog, perhaps as soon as June, when the next training session begins.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Kristyne E. Demske at kdemske@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1041.