Warning: this story references gun violence and includes graphic details that may be unsettling to some individuals.
VPD Constable Jesse Schellenberg would likely not be alive today if it weren’t for his partner, Police Service Dog (PSD) Jade. This incredible story is one we wish we could have brought to you in the immediate aftermath of the events that took place last summer, but due to ongoing investigations it just wasn’t possible. But today, nearly one year later, we are very excited to share this remarkable story of quick thinking and heroism, courtesy of one of the VPD’s finest members – PSD Jade.
On July 16, 2022, patrol officers responded to a break and enter call in the Railtown neighbourhood of Vancouver. The suspect fled, and patrol members observed a suspicious vehicle leaving the area. When members tried to pull that vehicle over, it fled at a high rate of speed. Fearing for the public’s safety, patrol members let the vehicle go, but it was later located driving near 2nd Ave and Commercial Drive. The suspect continued driving erratically through the Commercial Drive area, hitting dozens of parked vehicles along the way, before crashing into a retaining wall near 2nd Ave and Commercial. During this time, several more units responded to the call, including Constable Jesse Schellenberg and his partner PSD Jade from the VPD’s K9 Unit.
Constable Schellenberg was on-scene to the crashed suspect vehicle immediately. What happened next is best described by Schellenberg himself:
“I saw that the suspect’s driver’s door was open and that he was conscious in the driver’s seat. His leg was sticking out of the vehicle and he was leaned over like he was rummaging around. I called to him that he was under arrest and to get out of the car or else I would send the dog. He continued doing what he was doing and did not surrender, so I sent in my partner PSD Jade. She ran up to him in the car and bit him on the shoe and started to pull his left shoe off.
I quickly approached the open driver’s door as well and noticed that he had retrieved a large 357 magnum revolver from the interior of the car. He spun around and pointed it at my head.
I quickly moved my head out of the way, and at the exact same time, Jade’s bite transferred from his shoe to his leg. He turned the gun from my head down to the top of Jade’s head. He placed the barrel on top of her head and pulled the trigger. It was a massive fireball and I remember thinking that she had obviously been shot.
He turned the gun back to me and kept his finger on the trigger so I couldn’t look down to Jade to check on her. I drew my firearm and fired back until I saw that the gun had fallen from his hand and he was giving up.
I was finally able to look down, expecting to see that Jade was dead.
Instead, I saw that she was still engaged on his leg. I pulled her back. There was blood all over my hands. I was still thinking she had been shot, but I couldn’t figure out where the blood was coming from. It didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t see any blood on her head. I pulled her back and walked away from the scene to continue checking her. I kept searching her to find where the bullet had gone in.
Jade seemed to be OK although it just didn’t make sense to me. I continued to search her with another canine handler and with an ERT medic. We searched her multiple, multiple times, and it still didn’t make sense – she was behaving normally, and we simply could not find when the bullet hit her. A canine colleague rushed her to the vet to have her examined while I remained on-scene.
After a full examination at the vet, they realized that the fur on the right side of her head, just up the front of her ear, was all burned from the gunshot. Because she transferred her bite from his shoe to his leg, the pain likely caused him to miss – the shot narrowly missed her skull. In fact, it looked as though he likely shot himself in the foot, which explained where the blood had come from.
I remember being reunited with Jade at the police station later that night and I just looked at her in disbelief. She had absolutely no injuries. It still made no sense, but I just knew in that moment how very fortunate we were. It was very emotional for me.
I firmly believe that the only reason that I walked away from this incident is because of all the training that our canine trainers have put into Jade to make sure that she performs as she supposed to.
Did she save my life that day? Absolutely.”
Later that same night, back at home with Constable Schellenberg and their family, PSD Jade was her regular happy-go-lucky self. To this day, she has shown no signs of injury, wariness or distress. Her hearing has been tested multiple times with no negative results and she has been re-tested in critical incident training with great success. PSD Jade is healthy, happy, and still working as though nothing at all happened on July 16, 2022.
Jade’s heroic actions that night was a textbook example of how police service dogs are trained to react and behave during critical incidents. These dogs are the first ones through a door putting themselves in immediate danger, and with their high level of training, they are keeping officers and civilians safe, day in and day out.
We’d like to thank all our supporters for continuing to understand the critical role that our Police Service Dogs play in keeping their partners and the city safe.
Please continue to PART 2 where we learn about the specific training that Jade has received, which ultimately saved both her and Constable Schellenberg’s lives that night.
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