Police K-9 Passes Away
SISTERSVILLE – One man’s best friend has gone to doggy heaven.
Police Chief Rob Haught’s trusty companion, Mauser, died in his sleep July 14 at home. The German Shepherd was 14 years old.
“He was a comfort; he would protect me. We worked together side by side for years. The best partner I ever had,” Haught said.
Haught purchased Mauser in 2004 from a breeder in Ritchie County and trained the dog himself by reading books on the subject and watching videos – often receiving high praise from state police for his dog handling skills.
“That became the start of our long friendship,” he said.
Haught said during state police certification specializing in narcotics detection, Mauser was able to detect drugs hidden high up on walls and buried deep within seat cushions. Mauser’s first official day on the job was April 14, 2004 with the Sistersville police when he was a puppy not more than 10 weeks old.
Mauser was the first police dog in the area.
“I saw this really working and thought, let’s see if we can get one of these dogs for the police department,” Haught said. “Now it is very common place.”
But Mauser’s best skills may have been in public relations as he was often used as a police ambassador at schools and civic functions near and far.
“Kids were allowed to pet him,” Haught said. “He’d eat lunch with kids at the high school and grade schools. He’d go to ball games, go out on the field and catch frisbees at half time. A hundred kids would come up and pet him during a ball game. He had that kind of personality.”
There was a softer side to the 110-pound gentle giant that was often seen with Haught patrolling town.
“He was the community’s dog,” Haught said. “I took him to a kindergarten class one day his first year to socialize with little kids. He graduated with that kindergarten class. I used to tell people that he’s the smartest dog in the world and he has the diploma to prove it. Those kids today are juniors or seniors in collage and they still ask about the dog.”
Haught recalled a visit to a Cub Scout troop with Mauser. Each scout petted the dog as he walked around their circle until he came to one little boy, who was blind.
“Dogs can sense that kind of stuff,” Haught said. “Each boy petted the dog as he walked by. When Mauser came to that boy, he stopped and laid his chin on his leg so that he could touch the dog too. Parents were surprised and amazed that he seemed to sense there was something different about that boy.”
This K-9 law officer’s keen nose could smell marijuana, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. The police dog assisted state police with a sizable drug and money seizure from a vehicle that he was called into search in New Martinsville. Later, Mauser was involved when the DEA made a large methamphetamine arrest. Haught said the DEA had tracked the operation from New Mexico to Tyler County. During the raid, Mauser located a sizable amount of cash that was hidden vacuum packed sealed bags within the one of the homes that was searched. Law enforcement agencies from Tyler, Pleasants and Wetzel counties often requested Mauser’s skills.
“He was outstanding,” Haught said. “We were often called to assist state police and the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration). Mauser took a lot of drugs off the street. The mere presence of having a drug canine is a deterrent to drug trafficking. The drug K9 are such a useful tool in the war against drugs.”
Everybody knew Mauser, who was perhaps the town’s mascot.
“Mauser’s favorite thing in the whole was to chase white butterflies around a field,” Haught said. “He loved little kids. And he liked coming to work everyday. All the banks and businesses would have treats for him. And the other businesses gave him treats as he would make our rounds during the day.”
When Mauser’s tour of duty ended, he enjoyed a little bit of retirement during the past few years. His health was declining, but the dog continued to keep the Haught family safe. And then he was gone, said Haught in an emotionally strained voice.
Haught said City Hall is considering dedicating a memorial stone to Mauser for his service to Tyler County.
“My most rewarding time over the past 30 years as police officer was working with Mauser,” he said. “Mauser was well loved in our community. He will be missed.”