A public memorial service will be held next week for “Sultan,” a Riverside County Sheriff’s Department canine who was fatally shot while pursuing a gunman in the Hemet area.
The service will be held at 11 a.m. Feb. 11 at the War Dog Memorial at March Field Air Museum, 22550 Van Buren Blvd. in Riverside, adjacent to March Air Reserve Base, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
Sultan was shot in the neck during a Jan. 21 search in the 40200 block of Clark Drive in East Hemet. According to Sheriff Stan Sniff, the 3-year-old Belgian Malinois-German shepherd mix was the first K9 on county record lost in the line of duty.
The dog and his handler, Deputy Mike Wallace, were summoned to assist fellow deputies search for wanted felon Todd Allan Hodge, a 36-year-old Hemet resident who allegedly ran and hid from deputies when they attempted to contact him in the area of Mayberry Avenue and San Jacinto Street.
Sniff said Sultan immediately locked onto Hodge’s trail, which led to a crawlspace underneath a house. The dog was set loose to check under the residence and was shot moments later, emerging from the hideaway with a bleeding wound. Sultan was taken to a veterinary clinic, where he died a short time later.
A sheriff’s SWAT unit surrounded the house and directed Hodge to surrender. When he didn’t come out after repeated commands, deputies fired a tear gas canister into the crawlspace, at which point the convicted felon came out — armed with a pistol, according to sheriff’s officials.
SWAT members shot him, and he was pronounced dead at the scene. “Sultan, like all of our dogs, is a hero,” Sniff told the Board of Supervisors. “He undoubtedly saved a deputy’s life that day.”
Anyone who wishes to contribute to the canine’s funeral, or the city’s cost to replace him, can make checks payable to: City of San Jacinto, K9 Sultan Fund, 595 S. San Jacinto Ave., San Jacinto 92383.