In Loving Memory of
Handler: Officer SEAN SPENCER
Hopewell Police Department
300 N. Main St.
PH: 804 541.2282
Dogs are frequently referred to as best friends.
They can also be some of the best co-workers.
Such was the case with K-9 Phelan, who served
the Hopewell Police Department from 2007 to
2012. “I loved working with Phelan,” said
Officer Sean Spencer, as he held a box
containing the remains of his partner at a
Other police dogs and handlers from
Chesterfield, Petersburg and Richmond joined the
Hopewell police department in Ashford Civic
Plaza to say goodbye to a dynamic and effective
member of the police force. The
announcement of Phelan’s death led to an
outpouring of support when it appeared on the
police department’s Facebook page. The post was
seen by 8.303 people, “liked” by 873 and shared
by 81 people.
Ninety-three people commented on it, writing
messages including, “K-9 Phelan helped the
Tri-Cities many times,” and, “thank you for
protecting the citizens of Hopewell.”
Phelan and Spencer were a
team, working together.
Police Chief John Koehane called guests’
attention to a picture of Phelan and Spencer
performing a water exercise together that was
folded into many programs, showing dog and
handler swimming in sync, focused on a common
“I can see no better picture of
between K-9 and handler than what you see of
this picture here that many have,” Keohane said.
In 2007, Spencer went to police headquarters to
pick up his new co-worker. As he was signing the
papers for Phelan, Spencer’s wife, who had
to meet the dog and was expecting the couple’s
first son, went into labor.
“Phelan met my oldest son at the time, just
once, and it was through the fencing of his
kennel,” Spencer wrote in a biography, read to
the crowd gathered in the plaza on Wednesday by
Captain Greg Taylor.
Four months after that first meeting, Phelan and
Spencer were participating in graduation
demonstrations at the Norfolk K-9 Academy.
During an identification exercise, in which
Phelan was to locate various objects placed in
the field, the dog went above and beyond, making
an additional identification no one expected him
“Phelan immediately leaped up and ran, at a
sprint, for the crowd,” Spencer wrote. “People
were screaming and running in different
directions, trying to escape from the
four-legged monster bearing down on them. Phelan
continued to run to the back of the bleachers.
It was then that I saw his target. He was
running directly at my four-month-old son.”
As he ran after the dog,
Spencer feared he might have to put Phelan down
in front of the crowd to protect his child. As
it turned out, that was Phelan’s intention too.
“Phelan ran up to the stroller, put his giant
head inside, sniffed my son and sat with him in
an apparent move to guard him from everyone
else,” the biography said.
After he was brought back to the field, Phelan
performed flawlessly on the
It was the start of a six-year partnership.
“There were different things about Phelan that
endeared him to me besides the job he did,”
Taylor read from Spencer’s biography.
Phelan would bark when their unit number was
called, and got excited any time Spencer put the
car in gear, spoke on the radio, made a traffic
stop, approached a large crowd or drove fast to
respond to a call. “He was ready to work,” he
said. There were silly moments too, like the
time Phelan fought a possum, throwing it into
the air then retreating back to Spencer when the
possum returned for more. Or the times he would
accidentally activated the car’s siren, scaring
everyone around. “He would also spin in
the kennel is such a way that, at times, he
would open the interior kennel door,” Taylor
read. “On more than one occasion, I had come out
from a call and found him sitting in the
driver’s seat.” Whenever they parked,
Phelan would watch the view from the back
windows of the vehicle intently, letting Spencer
know if anyone was approaching. His vigilance
and enthusiasm made his appearance a welcome
sight to officers at many a scene. “There
was nothing better to have than that beast in
the back, and see him rock the whole car back
and forth violently, while still wagging his
tail so hard against the kennel it sounded like
gun shots, in his excitement to get out and go
to work,” Taylor read from Spencer’s biography.
“I know he made me feel safer, and I believe he
made other officers feel safe too.”
In his six years of service, Phelan never bit
anyone, although he assisted in the apprehension
of many suspects, using his bark, his speed and
his nose. He tracked a suspect in a child
abduction case straight to his house, although
witnesses swore the man had continued past that
spot. During another pursuit, a suspect scaled
an eight foot fence and paused to laugh when
Phelan hit the obstacle. Spencer lifted Phelan
up and threw him over the fence to continue his
pursuit, which ended in surrender. Another
suspect wanted on federal fire arms charges gave
up as Phelan pursued him tirelessly. “He
wasn’t perfect, and he needed a lot of work a
long the way, but he made me a better handler
than I might have been had he not come into my
life,” Spencer said in Phelan’s biography.
At the police department’s mid-year award
ceremony in December, Spencer was recognized for
his control of Phelan during an incident where
Spencer and a subject struggled. Spencer was
able to control the agitated dog through voice
commands alone, making sure there were no bites.
During Wednesday’s ceremony, Spencer was
presented with Phelan’s remains as other police
dogs stood at attention.
Spencer said that after Phelan passed away, many
of his fellow officers expressed sympathy, but
said that they were under the impression the dog
“I assured everyone, he didn’t hate that person,
he didn’t hate the next person,” Spencer said.
“He just didn’t know whether someone was a good
guy or bad guy and his only job was to let
someone know not to approach me or to approach
the vehicle unless they had good intentions. My
dog didn’t hate anyone, he liked everyone, he
just had a different way of showing it.”
Phelan and Spencer were part of a long tradition
of dog and handler teams. A police dog history
appearing on the website of the London, England
based Metropolitan Police notes that officers in
the 1800s were frequently accompanied by dogs on
patrols, although the animals were not formally
trained. In 1899, the city of Ghent in
Belgium began strategically training dogs to
assist police, and the practice spread across
Europe and North America.
Police Chaplain Phil Andrews
recognized the contributions of Phelan and the
many other furry, four-legged officers who have
assisted humans on battlefields and at crime
scenes throughout history in his remarks at the
memorial ceremony. “The dogs that have been
trained to serve alongside a police officer fill
a very important role in police work,” he said.
I’m sure that many a police officer’s life has
been spared because of a good K-9.”
“The picture says it all:” Sean Spencer and
Phelan completing a water exercise.
photo by Sarah Steele Wilson An officer and a
gentle dog: K-9 Officers and their dogs came
from surrounding localities to recognize the
contributions of dogs like Phelan make to law
a dog's life: police remember K-9 Phelan for
service and enthusiasm
Sarah Steele Wilson, Newsroom Editor - Jan 11,
Submitted by Jim Cortina, Dir. CPWDA
by Sarah Steele Wilson Dogs and officers from
the surrounding area came out in force to honor
K-9 Phelan, who died in December, 2012.
In Loving Memory of
Sgt. Tom Shamaugh
Hancock County Sheriff's Dept.
East Main Street
Greenfield, IN 46140
Sergeant shoots own police dog
A Marion County Sheriff's Office sergeant said he was
forced to shoot his own dog, and now the shooting is
under investigation by his own department and the
Hancock County Sheriff's Department. "The dog had
that day from his kennel, and while he
was out there, the dog tried to come at him,”
Captain Robert Campbell with the Hancock County
“He did have some bite marks on
him from the dog." According to the police report,
Tom Shambaugh's dog Paco "went to the area of the kennel
where he had escaped from that morning."
Shambaugh claimed he feared for his safety because the
dog was agitated and aggressive so he grabbed his
department-issued 12-gauge shotgun and shot the dog
twice. The Hancock County Sheriff's Department responded
to a 911 call he placed after he called his superiors.
The dog was already dead. The police report stated the
dog sustained "one shot to stop the threat, and the
second shot to stop the action." "[The dog] was donated
to him, but it was in the process of being cleared to be
used I think for narcotics use," said Captain Campbell.
Campbell also explained why they were investigating.
"Was the shooting appropriate, and was there any
aggravated circumstances that would have been
appropriate for him to shoot the dog." The Marion County
Sheriff's Office would not comment on the ongoing
investigation. Shambaugh also declined an interview.
submitted by Jim Cortina, Dir. CPWDA
Loving Memory of
June 10, 2012
Cpl. Christopher Jones
Newark DE Police Department
220 Elkton Road
Newark police dog named 'Paco' dies
served the Newark Police Department since August 2006.
Retired police K-9 Paco, who for the last six
years tracked crimes and criminals along with
his Newark police partner, Cpl. Christopher
Jones, was put to rest Sunday , police said
today. The canine was diagnosed with
bi-lateral hip dysplasia and retired in
September, but his health grew progressively
worse and a decision was made to put him to
sleep with Jones and his family by his side,
said police spokesman Lt. Mark Farrall,
The K-9 was acquired for Vohn Liche Kennels, in
Denver, Indiana., in August 2006 and trained by
the state police Canine Unit.
His entry to service marked the first time in
two decades that Newark police had used a canine
in day-to-day police operations and formation of
the Newark Police Canine Program.
During his tenure, Pace handled more than 1,500
complaints, answered 400 burglar alarms,
conducted more than 100 tracks, was involved in
700 searches, and confiscated more than $150,000
in drug money, Farrall said.
He was also responsible for seizing 30 pounds of
marijuana, several firearms and two vehicles
used to transport narcotics.
Paco was a big hit with the community for his
friendly disposition and was always surrounded
by children at school demonstrations and
community events, police said.
The canine was recognized by the U.S. Police
Canine Association as a nationally certified
narcotics detection dog and in 2008 as the
fastest completion of the timed certification
course by a first-time participant.
Contact Terri Sanginiti at 324-2771 or
courtesy Newark police -
submitted by Jim
Cortina, Dir. CPWDA
Loving Memory of
Deputy Juan Chapa - Montgomery County
23628 Roberts Rd.
New Caney, TX 77357
Porter was a black Labrador
Retriever, trained in narcotics detection and joined the
agency in April 2010
@ 3 years old. Porter was assigned to Deputy Juan Chapa of
Montgomery County, Precinct 4, Constables Office.
They immediately began working drug interdiction and were
very successful. Porter lived with Deputy Chapa's
family which include a wife and young son. He was soon
regarded as a forth member of the family as well as a
Porter always seemed to be under-weight, regardless of diet,
but otherwise appeared healthy. That is... until
one day in March when Deputy Chopa returned to his patrol vehicle and
could see Porter had fallen ill.
He rushed him to the ER and where he briefly improved, two
days later, Porter died.
The veterinarian said it appeared that he had some kind of infection.
Deputy Chapa and family were
devastated by his loss, as were other members of the Constable's office.
Not only Porter was an
excellent tool in the battle against illegal drugs, but he
was also a loving and gentle dog with an
submitted by Jim Cortina, Dir. CPWDA
Loving Memory of
March 3, 2012
Handler: Lt. Jeff Michael
Russellville Police Department
400 North Jackson Ave.
PO Box 1000
Russellville, Alabama 35653
Department’s first drug dog dies
Jeff Michael, Saturday was just another day. He and
his canine partner, Player, were going through their
routine to prepare for their shift with the Russellville Police
Department. Michael did know then, but it would
be the last time he and his friend would work
together. "Jeff said he was at the car getting
to leave, and Player came up and laid down by the car door," Russellville
Police Chief Chris Hargett said.
Michael said everything appeared to be normal.
"I was logging on to the computer," Michael said.
"Once I got through, I was going to open the back
and let him in the car. When I got out (of the vehicle), he was just lying
way he was breathing, I knew something was wrong."
Michael took Player to the a local veterinarian,
but the 13-year-old canine died shortly after getting to the clinic.
Hargett said Player, a solid black Labrador
Retriever, was purchased in 2001 and was the
department's first drug dog. He said it appears the
dog died of heart failure. Michael began working
with Player when the dog was 8 months old. "He has
been a part of our family,
and it feels like we lost a child," Michael said. He
said he and his wife, Linda, cried when Player died.
"To some people he was just a dog, but he was my best friend. He was with
me 24-7," Michael said.
"He wasn't just a pet. He lived and worked with me.
We had a special bond, and I will always have
memories of the times we spent together. Hargett
Player was a major part of the department. Michael
said the dog participated in several large drug
in the county. They assisted the Franklin County
Sheriff's Office on one case and helped discover
more than $30,000 and drugs in a safe inside a
house. On another occasion, they worked with
the federal Drug Enforcement Agency when more than
$1 million in marijuana was found inside clay
pots being carried in a tractor-trailer that was
stopped in Russellville. Hargett said plans are for
small memorial to be placed in front of the
Russellville Police Department to honor Player.
The department also has a multi-purpose dog that is
used for tracking, apprehension and drugs.
Hargett said it's unclear whether the department can
"Regardless, there will never be another Player," he
Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or
submitted by Jim Cortina, Dir. CPWDA