|Death: ||Jul. 1, 2008|
Tempe police dog dies searching for burglary suspects
The Tempe police dog that died while on duty Monday night wasn't your average canine.
Sure, he loved to play with tennis balls but he was also methodical and serious about work, his co-workers say.
"He needed less direction to get the job done (than most other dogs)," said Lt. Noah Johnson, who previously supervised Tempe's K-9 unit.
That's why Tempe police say they will miss Baloo, the 5-year-old German shepherd dog who fell to his death at about 6:40 p.m. Monday night as he and his partner, Officer John Holdinsky, responded to a report of suspicious activity.
Police had learned that two men who may have been trying to steal copper had run into the fenced Farmer Street Lofts Project under construction near University Drive and Mill Avenue. As he searched the building, Baloo fell approximately 40 feet.
Though he was rushed to an animal hospital for treatment, Baloo died.
The patrol and narcotic-trained dog had served the Tempe Police Department since November 2004. Baloo will be impossible to replace because he exemplified everything a police dog should be, Johnson said.
He could be playing with Holdinsky one minute and then searching for a suspect the next, he said. That trait is one of the most essential for police dogs; they must be both friendly and focused.
Baloo also stood out because he also had a sense of humor, Johnson said.
He recalled Holdinsky sending the dog after a suspect who had broken into a house. When Baloo realized the man was hiding in the laundry room, curled up into a ball and crying, the dog looked back at his handlers.
"He turned back and seemed to ask, 'What, are you kidding?' " Johnson said. Baloo had expected the man to put up a fight, he said.
That playful spirit made Baloo's relationship with his human partner and family that much stronger.
"He was John's partner and they worked together very well," Johnson said. "They mutually respected one another and they got the job done."
When Tempe Police Chief Tom Ryff learned of Baloo's death Monday night, he said, his thoughts immediately went out to the Holdinsky family.
"(Baloo) is still part of their family," he said. "He lived with them."
Baloo's death has been difficult for both the Holdinsky family and those who worked closely with the dog, Ryff said.
As new police officers were sworn in at a ceremony on Tuesday, Ryff described meeting with the family and asked all in attendance to keep the Holdinsky family in their prayers.
Holdinsky has served with the Tempe Police Department for 22 ½ years..
Tempe Police spokesman Officer Brandon Banks said Baloo was noteworthy for his exceptional skill in finding suspects.
Holdinsky's unit was present at the animal hospital and a chaplain has made contact with his family, Banks said. Information regarding a public memorial will be made available once the details are determined, he said.
The last Tempe K-9 to lose its life in the line of duty was Murph, who was shot on Nov. 21, 1986.
Created by: Never To Be Forgotten
Record added: Jul 01, 2008
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