The extraordinary life of Spokane police dog Var - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

The extraordinary life of Spokane police dog Var

YAKIMA, Wash.- Thursday night Spokane Police Officer Dan Lesser was awarded the Washington State Police Canine Association's Medal of Valor in memory of his deceased K9, Var. The award was presented at the so called K9 College in Yakima, a yearly spring training that involves Police dogs and their human partners from across the northwest. 

Var was awarded the Medal of Valor for his part in an incident on March 17, 2009 in which he was shot while apprehending a criminal suspect. The suspect had fled from officers in a stolen car, crashed it, and then continued to flee on foot in the area of North Division and Empire. Officer Lesser and Var responded and were able to track and locate that suspect, hiding in a nearby alley. 

As Var was closing in, the suspect turned and fired at Var with a handgun, striking him. Officer Lesser, along with numerous other civilians, were in the direct line of fire of the suspect's gunshots. Officer Lesser therefore returned fire, striking the suspect who was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. WSPCA President Deputy John Munson stated that Var saved Officer Lesser's life, and very likely the lives of others put at risk. Officer Lesser accepted the medal in Var's honor, to a standing ovation. Var died June of 2009 due to complication from a brain tumor. 

One other interesting note: during that March shooting, Var had just returned to active duty from retirement. He retired January 21st of 2009, the day after he helped apprehend three suspects wanted for a fatal stabbing of Shannon Cochran in north Spokane. One of those suspects, Christopher Hooper, plead guilty to 2nd Degree Assault Thursday, April 22nd and was sentenced to 12 months in jail. 

The other two suspects, Michael Summa and Tyler Buttolph, are in jail awaiting their trials. Both are charged with 2nd Degree Murder. Prosecutors say Hooper received a lighter sentence because he wasn't the one who actually stabbed Cochran. Var was able to track and corner Summa on the night of January 20th, 2009 in the basement of a north Spokane home, his last day of active duty. He was called out of retirement because his replacement, Cisco, did not work out.

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