By ZEINAB NAJM
HEIGHTS — The Police Department K9 Unit lost a member of its team after German shepherd Chase died during surgery May 9.
Chase served the department from 2009 to 2016 where he was responsible for money seizures totaling over $200,000.
He was used for various reasons including suspect tracking, handler protection, narcotic detection, assistance to neighboring agencies, building searches, classroom demonstrations, crowd control and suspect apprehensions.
On May 9, Chase was rushed to emergency with a bloat or inversion of the stomach which cuts blood supply to the internal organs. He died during surgery after he lost 70 percent of his stomach along with some other internal organ damage.
“Chase developed the sudden stomach complications while at home and was diagnosed as critical on arrival and was taken into surgery,” said K9 Unit Cpl. Jeff Colon, Chase’s handler. “After approximately an hour into the surgery, I was notified to return to the vet clinic and to bring the rest of Chase’s family as his condition worsened and became terminal.”
Chase was born in Czechoslovakia on Nov. 9, 2007. He came to the United States in 2009 where he was placed in a kennel reserved for prospective police dog candidates in Indiana.
“I was fortunate enough to first meet Chase after he had only been in the U.S for approximately one week,” Colon said. “I traveled to the kennel along with the head trainer from Macomb Community College.”
Several K9 candidates were pre-tested at the kennel and Chase was the last K9 to be tested.
“I knew immediately while he was being tested he was the one for me and my family,” Colon said. “Chase passed all his pre-tests and I then selected him to be my future partner.”
Next, Chase began narcotic order recognition training, completing the 10-week Macomb County K9 academy and then finished five more weeks of training with Colon.
Chase was certified with the United States Police Canine Association as a dual purpose patrol dog and sworn in as a police officer and member of the Dearborn Heights Police Department on May 26, 2009.
Colon recalled his time at home with Chase and his love to play, travel and take afternoon naps.
“When he was off duty at home, he was not a police officer, but merely another member of the family,” Colon said. “He always traveled with his family on vacations and loved to play with all his fury toys.
“When Chase and I were off duty, he loved to go for rides with me in my private vehicle because he could sit in the front seat and hold his head out the window.”
“Chase stood faithfully by my side for seven wonderful years serving the citizens of Dearborn Heights,” Colon said. “Please keep Chase and my family in your thoughts and prayers. He will be missed.”
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)