Warning: this story references gun violence and includes graphic details that may be unsettling to some individuals.
INTRODUCTION: 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 the scene, and patrol members located a suspicious vehicle leaving the area. Eventually, patrol members were able to stop the vehicle 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.
Jade immediately engaged the suspect, and as Constable Schellenberg arrived at the driver’s door, the suspect pointed a gun directly at his head. Then, in a split-second reaction to Jade biting the suspect’s leg, the suspect re-aimed the gun to the top of Jade’s head and pulled the trigger. Miraculously, not only did Jade survive, but she was also mostly un-harmed. And just as importantly, she is fully credited for saving Constable Jesse Schellenberg’s life.
Please read PART 1 HERE for the much more detailed account how PSD Jade saved Constable Schellenberg’s life last summer.
After reflecting on this incident, Constable Schellenberg gives full credit to Jade and the many canine trainers that he and Jade have worked with, for her quick thinking and precise actions on the night of July 16, 2022.
For example, all police canines are trained to bite specific areas of the body, rather than any heavy clothing or loose articles, such as a purse or backpack that suspects may be wearing.
“We consider it a high use of force when we send a dog in to bite a suspect, so we take it very seriously,” explains Constable Schellenberg. “As a result, we are relying on this use of force to be effective in the situation.”
In the July 16 incident, Jade initially went for the suspect’s shoe and as soon as the shoe became loose, she immediately reengaged on the suspect’s leg. The exact second of Jade’s reengagement was what prompted the suspect to turn the gun away from Constable Schellenberg’s head and onto hers.
“We’ve trained extensively with very similar drills, where we have our dogs latch onto to something like a backpack or jacket, and then as soon as the backpack is dropped, they’re to reengage on the actual person. We call it a shedding drill. Throughout her career, Jade has seen this drill hundreds of times and typically executes it flawlessly. So, in terms of her training, Jade did exactly as she was trained – she dumped a piece of loose clothing and then went right back to the suspect.”
In other words, Jade’s specific and extensive training, plus keen intelligence to apply her training in a variety of situations, saved Constable Schellenberg’s life that night.
The VPD Canine Unit is very progressive and proactive when it comes to training the animals and the handlers. They are constantly seeking out international experts in the industry for training on the latest techniques and methods, which can involve travelling all over Canada and the USA to attend seminars and classes.
“We then take that information and build our own individual and group training sessions back at the VPD kennels in Vancouver. We are out there as least once a day with our dogs, either on our own or in small groups, reinforcing our latest learnings to become an even stronger, safer team.”
The Vancouver Police Foundation is proud to provide financial support to the VPD Canine Unit for these valuable training opportunities as well as the acquisition of advanced safety equipment for both the dog and handler.
Constable Schellenberg has been with the VPD for 16 years, with stints in Patrol, Community Policing, and Strike Force before landing in the Canine Unit. He and PSD have been partners for nearly four years.
“In policing you become quite attached to your partner. I have formed special bonds with previous partners throughout my career, and I still cherish those friendships today. But doing this job in the Canine Unit with Jade – I can definitely say it’s something that I’ve never felt before.”
“It was very emotional for me when I was reunited with Jade once she was cleared by the vet. Having gone through a critical incident with your partner who’s been shot at, and then getting to see them again and see that they are safe and OK, was huge for me.”
The extensive training that (human) VPD officers receive throughout their careers is also worth noting. Many officers will go through their entire career without ever having to draw their firearm, but in critical incidents when it is necessary, such as on this particular night, Constable Schellenberg will tell you that he relied entirely on his comprehensive training when he was reacting to the gun that was pointed directly at his head.
“All that was going through my mind was that I needed to survive, so I employed the techniques we’ve been taught. In those split seconds I was sure that Jade had likely been killed. But I needed to get home to my family.”
Constable Schellenberg is a loving husband and incredible father to two young boys. When not at work, PSD Jade is also a well-loved member of their family, as are their other two dogs, a Golden Retriever named Gus and Papillon named Cricket. In fact, Gus and Jade are best friends at home, always teasing and playing with each other. When not at work, Jade also loves to steal Gus’ toys and rest her head on them as she sleeps.
We are so grateful for PSD Jade, her training, her intellect, and her commitment to risking her life to keep Constable Schellenberg and the city of Vancouver safe. Jade, you are the goodest girl.
We’d also like to thank all our generous donors who support the VPD Canine Unit throughout the year. Your commitment to these incredible animals is also helping save lives and helping to make Vancouver a safer city for all.
(On June 2, 2023, the suspect in this incident was sentenced to five years in prison, including a sentence of three years for using a firearm in the commission of an assault on a police officer, one year for assaulting a police officer, and one year for dangerous driving.)
The Vancouver Police Foundation supports programs and initiatives that fall under one of four pillars: Youth Programs, Mental Health & Addictions, Community Outreach & Engagement, and Technology & Special Equipment. You can help build a safer Vancouver by donating to the Vancouver Police Foundation.