Police dog killed in Maple Ridge

An RCMP dog was killed on Tuesday evening while in pursuit of a robbery suspect in Maple Ridge.

In his 10 months as an employee of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Barry logged several impressive take-downs.

He sniffed out evidence dumped following a break-and-enter, tracked down one of several men responsible for a home invasion, and helped his partner arrest a man who fled in a car after a domestic dispute.

On Tuesday, the black, pure-bred German Shepherd fondly known as Bear picked up the scent of someone who had forced their way into a Maple Ridge home around 11:40 p.m., looking for drugs.

At least three men burst into the house on Lougheed Highway near 220th Street, the force they used to get inside evident in the large gashes left on the front door.

All fled when they heard police nearing.

Bear and his handler pursued them, heading west along the highway. Police won’t say whether Bear was on a leash or had been released to tackle the suspect. He was not wearing a reflective vest.

A few blocks away from the crime scene, Bear was struck by two cars – first a SUV, driven by a Surrey resident, then a minivan, with a driver from Coquitlam.

Bear was trapped underneath it and died on the road from his injuries.

RCMP Cpl. Dale Somerville, who was at the scene within three minutes, found nothing wrong with the drivers. Both were obeying the speed limit and were not drunk.

He said both didn’t know what they had hit.

Bear was born in March 2009 and had been on active duty since completing his training in 2010. He was one of 44 police dogs stationed in the Lower Mainland and part of an RCMP integrated team that attends an average of 12,000 calls annually.

Bear was the second RCMP police dog killed in the line of duty in as many days.

Early Tuesday morning, a police dog named Bo was killed in Richmond after the vehicle he was in with his handler collided with a power pole.

“We are all saddened with the tragic loss our police service dogs. All of our dogs provide us with a key component in apprehending criminals,” Ridge Meadows RCMP Cpl. Alanna Dunlop said Wednesday.

“They also assist us in recovering lost persons, finding key evidence and calming violent people down. They all add so much to the public’s safety. The handler is quite distraught, and is getting the support he needs at this time.”

All dog handlers are regular members of the RCMP who volunteer for police dog services. Most spend years as “quarries,” training with experience dog handlers to learn basic skills. The quarry plays the bad guy, pretending to flee crime scenes, resist arrest, run from police, hide in buildings and act aggressively. When clad in a ‘bite suit,’ made of thick canvas or linen, or when wearing a padded sleeve, a quarry gets to be a police dog’s chew toy.

Once trained, the quarry finally gets a pup. Potential police dogs are monitored monthly and are tested at 49 days old, then at four, eight and 12 months.

When the pups are about 14 to 16 months old, they are ready to return to kennels for basic training, which lasts about four months.

“The bond starts from Day 1 and the bond gets stronger the more time they spend together,” said Sgt. Chris Moore, with the RCMP’s Lower Mainland Police Dog Service.

“The stronger the bond, the better the team’s performance. These dogs are not only working animals. They are part of the member’s family.”