Bellingham police dog loses battle to cancer

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMarch 20, 2014 

BELLINGHAM - The Bellingham Police Department has lost a member of its four-legged family, as one of its police dogs died from cancer Tuesday, March 18.

Max, a 5-year-old German shepherd, had been with the department since September 2011, helping track and apprehend criminals and detect drugs.

Max's handler, Officer Shan Hanon, discovered lumps on the dog earlier this year and took him to the veterinarian, who confirmed that the dog had an aggressive form of lymphoma, Lt. Bob Vander Yacht said. Max died within a month of detection.

The dog's sudden death is a loss for the department and for Max's handler.

"They get really close with the dogs," Vander Yacht said. "The dogs live at their homes and they're integrated into their families. It's a big loss."

The department has two other police dogs and will begin reaching out to training kennels for a replacement for Max. The dogs, which usually cost about $10,000, have to have the right temperament for the job. They need a keen sense of smell, be social, be able to form a strong bond with their handler, and fit in with the family and the organization as a whole.

"They're pretty amazing creatures," Vander Yacht said. "They do some pretty spectacular work for us."

Reach Zoe Fraley at 360-756-2803 or zoe.fraley@bellinghamherald.com.

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