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Chehalis Police Consider Commemoration for K9 Reign’s Service

By Natalie Johnson / njohnson@chronline.com

Two weeks after the sudden and unexplained on-duty death of Reign, the Chehalis Police Department’s only patrol dog, the department is considering ways to commemorate his service.

Mayor Dennis Dawes recognized the department’s loss and offered the council’s condolences Monday at the Chehalis City Council’s regular meeting. 

He also recognized the loss Reign represented to his handler, Officer Warren Ayers. 

“They form quite a bond and the dog is with them 24 hours a day,” he said. 

Reign, an about 5-year-old Belgian Malinois, had been on duty with the Chehalis Police Department since May 2013. 

He died on June 27 while conducting routine training with Ayers after what the department described as a sudden and unexplained medical event. 

The cause of that medical event is still unknown, Chehalis Police Chief Glenn Schaffer told the Chehalis City Council Monday. 

Reign’s body was taken to Washington State University after his death for a necropsy. Neither Reign’s local vet nor a veterinarian at WSU have found an obvious cause for his death, Schaffer said. 

Veterinarians are waiting for the results of tests on tissue samples and a toxicology report to make a determination on the dog’s cause of death. Schaffer said he plans to release that information to the public when it is available.

Schaffer, like Dawes, noted that Reign was not only a patrol dog, but a member of the family for the police department and Ayers’ family.

He told the council it’s too soon to broach the subject of getting a new dog. 

“We do recognize what a benefit, what a service (Reign) provided to the community,” Schaffer said. “A lot of that’s going to depend on Warren and what he feels like.”

The department is considering how best to commemorate Reign’s death and service. 

“We haven’t experienced that here in Chehalis, at least since I’ve been here,” Schaffer said. 

Dawes, who was once the Chehalis police chief, commented on the “unbelievable dedication” of police dogs such as Reign.

Despite working hard to protect their handler, find drugs and apprehend suspects, a police canine “really doesn’t ask for anything in return other than a pat on the back,” he said. “ … They’re just hard to replace.”