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Milwaukie police mourn loss of K9 officer Jag

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Training was intense for Scott Huteson, Milwaukie officer, and his canine police partner, Jag.Jag, a beloved Milwaukie police dog, had to be euthanized Friday at the age of 5 after being diagnosed with inoperable bone cancer.

The German shepherd, born May 11, 2007, helped to catch dozens of suspects and earned the trust of the hundreds of elementary school students that he played with.

Since June 2009, Officer Scott Huteson and his partner, Jag, had assisted during high-risk criminal apprehensions by tracking fleeing suspects, and by locating possible evidence that suspects dropped during their attempts to elude capture. During that time, Jag found his suspect 32 times out of the about 100 times he tried, well above the 20 percent norm for his type.

“Jag was not an average dog, and he was not even an average police dog,” Huteson said. “This has been really hard for me and will be especially hard for my son.”

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Jag the Milwaukie police dog had no trouble interacting with members of the public, loved to play and catch suspects.At home, Huteson always felt comfortable leaving Jag alone with his toddler son, even at 2 or 3 years old.

Jag got his start in police work with the efforts of John Truong and Kevin Krebs, Milwaukie officers who started a series of fundraisers in 2008. Milwaukie’s remaining police dog, an American Staffordshire terrier named Shaka, handled by Officer Billy Wells, specializes in drug sniffing.

Huteson’s police car had been especially adapted for Jag with a secure water bowl, a fan and heat sensors so when temperatures hit 90 degrees, the windows rolled themselves down, a fan came on and Huteson’s pager alarm went off. The pager also has a button that pops the door so Jag could jump out of the car if Huteson needed assistance in a crisis.

While on patrol, Huteson would stop the car for groups of schoolchildren who enjoyed interacting with Jag. Many police dogs are high-strung, but Huteson said that Jag “knew when to turn off his attitude” while visiting schools, helping raise money for the Milwaukie Pioneer Cemetery or during hundreds of other community events.

Cheeseburger snacks

Bob Jordan, Milwaukie’s police chief, sadly told citizens last week that Jag’s biopsy report came back as osteosarcoma or more commonly, malignant bone cancer. After consulting with Huteson, and considering the diagnosis, Jordan made the decision to euthanize Jag.

Dr. Chris Bonnell, the veterinarian at VCA Southeast Portland Animal Hospital who had been responsible for Jag’s overall care, located the cancerous tumor by Jag’s skull and nasal cavity, making surgery not an option.

“Other treatment options, such as chemo, are very difficult on the patient and not likely to succeed, according to Dr. Bonnell,” Jordan wrote to City Council. “Dr. Bonnell recommended euthanasia, an option she would pursue if Jag were hers.”

Huteson brought a wagging Jag around to tearful members of the department and offered an opportunity for members of the public to visit Jag for the last time. Although Jag seemed mostly healthy and happy, during his last week, he was becoming increasingly prone to nose bleeds and could only breathe out of one nostril.

by: PHOTO BY ADAM BACHER - Milwaukie Police Officer Scott Huteson and his canine partner, Jag, are photographed earlier this year as a benefit for the annual 9K for K9 Walk downtown.Members of Milwaukie’s Public Safety Advisory Committee, who were instrumental in fundraising to get the current program up and running, visited Jag during his last days to say goodbye. They brought Jag extra treats from the American Legion and promised Huteson that they would schedule additional fundraisers, beside the annual 9K for K9 Walk, to allow Huteson to continue in the program. Although Huteson said he would like to continue serving in the K9 unit, he wasn’t ready to discuss details.

“The department will be evaluating the idea of obtaining another canine in the future, but Officer Huteson and Jag’s situation is foremost in our minds,” said Milwaukie spokeswoman Officer Ulli Neitch. “All other thoughts right now are ancillary.”

Jag was on a strict veterinarian-supervised diet, but whenever Huteson and Jag caught a suspect, Jag was treated to a drive-thru cheeseburger. For the final week of his life, Jag got cheeseburger snacks without having to work for them.

Clarification

The Milwaukie Public Safety Foundation was formed specifically for raising funds for public safety-related projects such as the K-9 program, although some members of Milwaukie's Public Safety Advisory Committee are active in doing fundraising, as a story reports. People can make tax-deductible donations through the foundation, but PSAC, as a city-appointed committee, can't accept money.




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