Edmonton's first police dog becomes comic book hero
Day of the Dog Squad pays tribute to Edmonton Police canine unit
Step aside Snoopy, a new comic book dog is vying for readers attention.
The Legacy of Heroes: Day of the Dog Squad comic book was released by the Edmonton Police Service on Tuesday. It tells the true story of Sgt. Val Vallevand, who started the police department's canine unit over 50 years ago. In the comic, Vallevand's trusty dog Sarge sniffs out suspects and wins over the approval of the skeptical police chief.
Vallevand first pitched the idea of forming a dog squad in 1963, but it didn't go over that well, said friend Sgt. Major Gary Cook.
"The Chief wasn't thrilled with the idea but decided to give Val and his dog Sarge a chance," he said. "There was this reluctance back in those days of using this new tool that was basically untested."
But Vallevand saw the potential in following in the policing paw prints already laid by the RCMP and the Vancouver Police Service.
"He was raised in Saskatchewan, a farm boy," said Cook. "He had this passion for policing and, at the same time, dogs and animals so he saw the RCMP, he saw Vancouver [and] other agencies take this very innovative road of using a canine in capturing the bad guys."
Sarge eventually proved his worth when an investigator suggested Vallevand take him into an abandoned warehouse to find a suspect's hiding spot.
"Within moments after searching this huge warehouse they had the bad guy," he said, "The proof was in the pudding as it were."
The illustrated tale is a fitting tribute for Vallevand, a self-taught artist, who died in 1994.
One of his paintings, a self-portrait of him and Sarge responding to a call, still hangs on the wall at the EPS kennels, which are also named in Vallevand's honour.