Policing communities are mourning the loss of a much-loved police service dog that died after assisting Stratford police officers with a criminal matter.
Part of an investigation that started on Monday in Stratford included recovering suspected methamphetamine that two men threw from a vehicle onto the roadways, while fleeing arrest, which led to Stratford police asking Woodstock police for assistance in locating evidence.
During that search of the roadway, gravel, shoulders and ditches along and near Lorne Avenue, Taz and Striker, police service dogs from the Woodstock detachment, helped police locate and seize 484 grams of meth, with a street value of $38,700.
At some point, though, the dogs showed signs of drug consumption.
Narcan was administered and both dogs were rushed to an emergency veterinary clinic. Taz was pronounced deceased on arrival. Striker was held under observation, released and has returned home.
“The loss of PSD Taz is truly devastating news," Woodstock Police Chief Rod Wilkinson said in a statement to StratfordToday. "A police K-9 and handler have a very tight bond and are considered family. PSD Taz was well respected in the K-9 Community. He was a great service dog and we thank him for his service to the Woodstock Police Service.”
Two men have been arrested and remain in custody for charges that include drug trafficking and the death of a police dog, Stratford police said.
Henry Karkheck, 48, of Port Dover and Gary Roulston, 55, of Stratford are charged with:
- possession of a schedule 1 substance for the purpose of trafficking
- possession of a schedule 1 substance
- flight from police
- dangerous operation of a motor vehicle
- obstruct police
- mischief endangering fife
- injuring or killing animals (police dog)
Stratford police said Karkheck has a lengthy history of criminal charges, dating back to 1991. In August 2022, Karkheck was charged by Guelph Police Service after an investigation that resulted in the seizure of a significant amount of illegal drugs, cash and stolen property. Karkheck was on conditions to remain in his residence 24-hours per day as a result of those charges.
On Monday at 7:30 p.m., Karkheck and Roulston were observed operating a motor vehicle in Stratford. Uniform patrol tried to stop the vehicle on Romeo Street but it sped away, exiting the city travelling east on Lorne Avenue.
Police observed the two throwing meth out of the window. With both men identified, the pursuit was called off due to public safety concerns.
At 7:50 p.m., Stratford Police street crime unit observed Karkheck on foot in Shakespeare, where he was arrested.
At 7:56 p.m., Roulston was located in the vehicle, stopped in a parking lot at the east end of Stratford and arrested.
Lorne Avenue was closed from Romeo Street to Road 111 while police searched for items thrown from the vehicle at which point, Woodstock police canine unit were called to help.
"All members of the Stratford Police express their condolences for the on-duty death of Taz," Darren Fischer, Stratford police community resource/media relations officer said in a release. "We thank Taz for the service he provided to the city of Woodstock and its surrounding communities, including Stratford. Our thoughts are with the members of the Woodstock Police Service and for all those who cared for Taz."