A new city street planned for the neighbourhood that is home to the Vancouver Police Department’s precinct on Graveley Street near Boundary Road will be named after a deceased police dog.
Valiant was the name of Const. Mike Wellman’s dog, which was killed in the line of duty Dec. 18, 1967 after being shot while police attempted to capture a man who had escaped from prison.
Valiant was the first police dog killed while on duty.
The city’s “civic asset naming committee” recommended the new street be named after Valiant. City council approved the recommendation Tuesday. The new street will link East First Avenue to Graveley Street. The police department building is located at 3585 Graveley St.
Wellman and Valiant were part of a team of officers who responded to 1460 Nelson St. to capture a wanted man who had been serving a life sentence for murder. He was armed and “determined not to be taken alive,” according to the staff report that went before city council.
“When officers surrounding the building called for the man to surrender and kicked in the door, the escapee fired two shots, narrowly missing the officers,” the report said. “Valiant was released and was shot as he pounced on the man.”
Wellman called Valiant to heel. Valiant returned and the wanted man “afraid the dog would return, gave up meekly when again ordered to surrender.” Valiant stood guard while the prisoner was taken to a police car, the report said.
Wellman then noticed his dog was bleeding. Valiant was rushed to hospital to undergo surgery but died of his wounds following a three-hour operation.
Naming the new street after the dog had to first be cleared with the E-Comm 911 dispatch centre to ensure “Valiant” wasn’t a name that would present a risk to public safety or the safety of emergency responders.
“Emergency dispatchers, receiving a majority of their calls from cellphones, most often do not have a caller’s location displayed to them,” the report said. “They must then rely on a drop-down list of addresses based on the information relayed by the caller. As callers are often in distress, understanding them can be very difficult. For this reason [Vancouver and Fire Rescue Services] will not support names, particularly for streets, that present any risk of the location being misunderstood in an emergency situation.”
The staff report did not indicate when the street will be built.
“Police Service Dogs have been an important part of the VPD team since 1957,” said VPD spokesperson Const. Jason Doucette. “Not only do they become of a part of the handler’s family, police dogs are valued by all of our officers. To have a street named after one of our eight VPD dogs who has died serving the citizens of Vancouver would be an honour.”
Eight Vancouver police dogs have died in the line of duty since the dog squad formed in 1957. Nitro was the most recent dog to die while trying to catch a suspected car thief in January 2006.
No charges were laid related to Nitro's death.