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LPD K9 dies following battle with cancer

By Erin Freeman  |  Lynnwood Times Staff

A recently retired Lynnwood Police Department dog, who patrolled the city of Lynnwood, has died, battling recurrent cancer.

Earl, an eight-year-old German Sheppard, served with Officer Warren Creech until the dog retired in late December following a recurrent cancer diagnosis. The longtime member of the Lynnwood Police Department’s (LPD) K-9 unit died on February 1, 2021.

In March 2020, Earl began targeted radiation therapy, treating a small, red growth on his gums that had been growing slowly for the past few months, determined to be cancerous, and diagnosed as oral malignant melanoma in January 2020. 

Between March and April, Earl received a course of four radiation treatments, resulting in the growth falling off. He then received a melanoma vaccine therapy, designed to stimulate his immune system to destroy melanoma cells and prevent any further spread elsewhere in his body.

For several months Earl appeared to be cancer-free, x-rays at his follow-up appointments not revealing spread within his body. Yet through the fall and winter months, the K-9 began showing signs of increased fatigue, discomfort and labored breathing in December.

A large tumor was later discovered in his throat, partially blocking his airway and protruding into his larynx. Based on the size and location of the tumor, it was inoperable in practice, resulting in a vet recommendation for palliative care for the remainder of Earl’s life.

Earl retired from police service on December 31.

“I kept Earl working as a police dog for as long as possible while his body allowed it,” Creech said. “Earl was an extremely driven dog who was truly his happiest while working. His energy and desire to keep working with me never faded despite his increasing symptoms and he probably would have kept going indefinitely if I wasn’t concerned about taxing his blocked airway.”

He spent of month January 2021 at home, but the tumor progressively interfered with his ability to eat, drink, and breathe. After a noticeable decline in his quality-of-life, Officer Creech made the tough decision to have Earl euthanized.

Over the seven years working together, Earl served as a patrol generalist primarily tracking criminal suspects. For five of those years, the K-9 was also cross-trained for narcotics detection. 

He excelled in arresting suspects who would have otherwise evaded arrest, says Creech, such as tracking suspects through the snow and finding them hiding in swamps, finding them hiding in cars, and those who had climbed up trees. In one case, his skills allowed him to track a suspect from a burglarized business, through the city to a local Lynnwood hotel. The crime would have likely gone unsolved without Earl’s track, stated Crime.

According to Officer Creech, Earl was well-suited for police work due to his incredible drive, power, and energy all-packaged in a social dog with an even temperament. Continuing, he said he is incredibly grateful to have had so many years with such an amazing police partner and family member by his side.

“I so am proud of the way he served our city and the surrounding community,” he said. “He kept me safe, made my fellow officers safer, found criminals who would have otherwise gotten away, and helped us get drugs off of the streets. He was a truly talented police dog, a great partner, and a cherished member of our family whose memories I will cherish forever.”

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