Officer Down!

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Like so many stories of life on patrol, it started as a traffic stopped and ended in gunfire. 

The wounded K9 in this case is a 3-year-old German Shepherd named Arlo. The law dog first hit the streets with Thurston County deputies in 2019 and is the unit’s youngest K9.

A GoFundMe campaign was set up to cover Arlo’s surgery, but within 24 hours had closed as they had exceeded their goal. Outfitting, training and veterinary care of Thurston County’s K9 units are covered almost entirely by community donations and are not paid for by county tax dollars.

Arlo sustained a bullet to a shoulder and right-rear leg, and went into surgery Thursday morning. The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office has not said whether Arlo was struck by gunfire from law enforcement officers or the suspect.

The armed suspect was transported to a nearby hospital in serious condition, but is expected to recover.

Arlo is one of the thousands of dogs across the country that help law enforcement keep our communities safe. 

Arlo and Deputy Tyler Turpin

The American Canine has a memorial page where we pay tribute to those who are not as lucky as Arlo and do not make it home at the end of the shift. 

The page also honors those dogs who spent the majority of their lives working the streets and made it to retirement before heading over that rainbow bridge.

2020 brought a lot of focus to the way K9 units work inside departments. As with many aspects of law enforcement during the past year, scrutiny on several departments raised questions about officer training, racism, deployment, and procedures. One thing that cannot be questioned is the loyalty these officers, both the 2- and 4-legged ones, show to each other and the bravery with which they go about their shifts. During this next year, I plan on looking at a number of issues with K9s, from training to end of duty decisions, but every question comes from the desire to see these dogs and their handlers used in the most efficient and effective manner while ensuring that they go home at the end of each shift.

Stay strong Arlo. We’re all pulling for you.

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