PARKLAND — Ferro, a police dog with the Pierce County sheriff’s department who last spring survived a week in the wilderness near Mount Rainier, was struck and killed by a patrol car during pursuit of a felon early Thursday.
The accident occurred at an intersection in this Tacoma suburb during a traffic stop.
The driver — allegedly speeding in a car with switched license plates — got out of his vehicle and attempted to flee on foot, running in front of a patrol car.
Ferro, who was at the scene with his handler, took off after the man — also running in front of the patrol car. He was struck when the deputy at the wheel stepped on the gas to pursue the man.
"It all happened so quick — within 50 yards," said Sheriff’s Detective Ed Troyer. "It’s just a tragic accident."
The 5-year-old black-and-tan German shepherd died about 12:30 a.m. at an emergency veterinary facility.
Ferro’s handler, the deputy who struck the animal and other officers "were all pretty upset," Troyer said. "He was a friendly dog who liked to be petted and hang out with the deputies."
In May, Ferro got separated from his handler during a search for a fugitive and spent nearly a week in the woods north of Mount Rainier. A firefighter found him near the search area. Ferro had lost about 20 pounds, but quickly regained the weight.
In August, he helped find a 15-year-old boy accused of killing his aunt in Graham.
Ferro was responsible for numerous arrests, Troyer said.
"The dog was famous — he’d been on the TV show ‘COPS’ several times" and also got widespread publicity when he disappeared last spring.
Ferro’s death leaves the department with three K-9 officers. He will be replaced eventually, Troyer said, noting that police dogs take a lot of work, time, money and training.
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