Moses Lake K9 ‘Chief’ released from hospital, gets police escort home

PULLMAN, Wash. — Moses Lake Police K9 Chief walked out of Washington State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital Wednesday with one less eye, but his head still high.

Chief was shot in the head by an alleged robber, right before the man was killed by police Friday night.

RELATED: Moses Lake Police K9 shot in the eye recovering from successful surgery

It’s been a long few days for Chief and his handler.

In the hospital waiting room Wednesday morning, there was a group full of our everyday heroes—Cheney Police, Spokane Police, deputies from Spokane County and Grant County Sheriff’s Office, and more. Law enforcement officials from all over eastern Washington waited for K-9 Chief to make his exit from the hospital.

Meanwhile, in a back room with his handler Officer Nick Stewart, the two were ready to go home.

“You always know it’s a possibility and you think it can happen. He did his job. In my mind he saved my life and possibly other officers’ lives that night,” Stewart said.

The two have been together for almost two years until Chief was shot in the line of duty.

Right after the shooting, Chief was taken to Pioneer Veterinary Clinic in Moses Lake. There he received fluids because he lost a lot of blood. Then, an air ambulance was called to fly Chief to Pullman.

“It probably saved his life,” Stewart said.

Emilia Terradas was on-call that night for WSU’s veterinary hospital. When she received the call about Chief they were concerned about where the bullet hit him.

“I was not expecting that dog to survive,” she said.

She said the bullet went through his eye and jaw, missing the brain.

“Our concern was that he has the shot in the brain and that would have completely changed the picture, because he’s not the same if there was a bullet to the brain, where he may have severe deficit or even die immediately in the first 24 hours,” Terradas said.

Chief is expected to make a full recovery, but his future with the police department is unknown.

“It’s pretty early to tell and chances are pretty small that he’d come back to work. I’m not going to rule that out. Right now I’m just happy he’s alive and I can take him home,” Stewart said.

Before he took Chief home, they were met with that crowd of officers, deputies and community members clapping as Chief walked out to the car with Stewart.

“I’m overwhelmed with how supportive everybody’s been. I mean friends, family, coworkers, people I’ve never met, other law enforcement I’ve never met,” Stewart said.

When an officer is shot in the line of duty, their brothers and sister in blue will always be there – human or dog.

“These are dogs and they put their life on the line for us and they keep our officers safe. We know that’s a reality and it can happen, you just don’t want it to,” said Sgt. Nate Spiering, with the Spokane Police Department.

Spiering says his department trains regionally with Moses Lake, Grant County Sheriff’s and more, so they know Stewart and Chief well.

“It’s gut wrenching,” Spiering recalled when he heard about the Chief being shot. “You know that when an incident like that happens, that the handler has so many things going on and the handlers from any K9 unit are feeling those same things, because the thoughts are always there and things are going to go sideways.”

Officers in uniform and their trusted K9’s were all there for Chief and Stewart, giving them a police escort home to finally rest.

“To have this happen, it’s, you know, I’m very very grateful to have had him with me on that night. I’m very grateful to him,” Stewart said of Chief.

A GoFundMe has been set up by the Moses Lake Police Department and since it was published, it’s received thousands of dollars from the community.

MLPD said that if Chief can’t work anymore, he’ll be able to stay with Stewart at his home and they will give him a “retirement befitting a hero.”