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West Vancouver police dog Ranger retires after 7 years of sniffing out bad guys

'He now deserves a new life of chasing chew toys instead of bad guys.'

Ranger, a very, very good boy, has just retired after a long stint as a police service dog for West Vancouver Police Department.

The eight-and-a-half-year-old German Shepherd, born on May 20, 2012, in Germany, spent his days sniffing out crooks with his partner Cpl. Mark McLean.

Ranger and McLean served the West Vancouver community together for seven years and have assisted with several criminal apprehensions.

McLean said Ranger had reached the perfect retirement age and deserved to put his paws up after a successful career.

“He'll be nine in May, and nine is generally kind of the latest you want to work a police dog,” he said.

“I thought it would be good to retire him when he's still healthy and happy and injury-free. He's getting up there in age, so it's time for him to enjoy his retirement.”

It was the summer of 2013 when McLean was first partnered with Ranger. The young canine was only 16 months old at the time, and the two spent their first few months together bonding before training began. Members of the WVPD canine section are trained in a variety of disciplines such as tracking, criminal apprehension, and evidence recovery. 

Ranger’s best asset on the job was his nose, of course, and his primary tasks were tracking bad guys who had fled crimes and finding discarded objects with human scent on them, and boy was he good at it.

Cpl. McLean is proud of Ranger's work achievements 

McLean said Ranger had had his fair share of proud moments sniffing out suspects.

“A number of years ago, there was a break and enter that we had where the suspects fled in a van and then ended up ditching the van and running,” recalled McLean.

“We had a long track, maybe an hour or an hour and a half through residential yards and then into a ravine, and we ended up catching the two guys hiding up against a riverbank and some bushes – that was a really good moment. That particular catch.”

More recently, in February last year, McLean said Ranger helped catch another suspect who had fled a stolen truck that had rammed into a police vehicle.

“He tracked from where we found that stolen truck into a house that had been broken into and caught one of the suspects who was hiding in the closet of the house red-handed,” he said. “That was another one that really stands out for me as a good work achievement for him.”

McLean said working with Ranger was an amazing experience.

“It is pretty remarkable showing up to a crime scene and watching this animal just follow an invisible trail and then finding someone who surely thinks they've gotten away with it, hiding in this impossible to find place,” he said.

Ranger is 'like an extension of my right arm'

Being a dog handler is “the best job in policing,” in McLean's opinion, but like Ranger, he said it was also his time to move on to something new.

“It’s a lot of fun, but it's also a physical job for the dog and for the handler,” he said. “Some of the terrain that you go in and, you know, jumping over fences in the middle of the night was a lot of fun in my 30s, now in my 40s, it's still fun, but it's more and more difficult as time goes on.”

The duo worked their last shift together on Dec. 27, 2020.

McLean is now working in a general patrol team but said he already missed having his best friend by his side every day. WVPD service dogs live with their handlers as part of their family and continue working as long as they are able, or until their handler is transferred or promoted to another section.

“To be with them 24 hours a day, at home and at work, it's a different relationship. It's pretty cool,” he said.  

“For me, he [Ranger] was like an extension of my right arm for seven years.

“We did everything together, and I guess … the one thing that I miss is just his presence all the time.”

While Ranger is a little confused he’s not jumping in the car to go to work with McLean anymore, he’s now spending his days going on hikes, playing in the backyard with his best bud, Karma, the McLeans’ other dog, and enjoying a little more time relaxing in the house. 

“Ranger has been an invaluable member of this department for the last seven years, and he will be missed,” said West Vancouver Const. Kevin Goodmurphy in a release.

“He now deserves a new life of chasing chew toys instead of bad guys.”