Sirens & Gavels

Spokane police K-9 Var honored after death

Spokane Police Officer Dan Lesser ( rear ) has a new partner named Rav who sits by his side at the Police Academy Wednesday April 9, 2009. At front is Var, who recently retired after 11 years as a K9, and worked with Lesser capturing homicide suspects and who was recently wounded on duty. CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON The Spokesman-Review (Christopher Anderson / The Spokesman-Review)
Spokane Police Officer Dan Lesser ( rear ) has a new partner named Rav who sits by his side at the Police Academy Wednesday April 9, 2009. At front is Var, who recently retired after 11 years as a K9, and worked with Lesser capturing homicide suspects and who was recently wounded on duty. CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON The Spokesman-Review (Christopher Anderson / The Spokesman-Review)

A Spokane police K-9 who died after surgery to remove a brain tumor was honored this week by the Washington State Police Canine Association.

Var, a 10-year-old German shepherd who died last June, was awarded the Medal of Valor for a March 17, 2009, shooting that struck him twice. Var’s handler, Officer Dan Lesser, shot and killed the suspect, 22-year-old Johnnie L. Longest III.

Longest, a meth addict, had abandoned a stolen car and ran from police; investigators said he was preparing to shoot again when Lesser shot him. (Var is pictured at front in April 2009; Lesser is in back with his new partner, Rav.)

Lesser accepted the award for Var in Yakima on Tuesday. About 100 K-9 handlers from around Washington attended the spring seminar.

Pierce County Sheriff's deputy John Munson, president of the Canine Association, said Var saved Lesser's life "and possible the lives of others," according to a news release.

Var also received the Spokane Police Department's Purple Heart in April 2009.




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