April 23, 2010 in City

Spokane police K-9 Var honored after death

By The Spokesman-Review
Christopher Anderson photo

Spokane Police Officer Dan Lesser (rear) has a new partner named Rav who sits by his side at the Police Academy on April 9, 2009. At front is Var, who worked with Lesser capturing homicide suspects.
(Full-size photo)

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.

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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