The CHP is seeking help in finding the driver who struck and killed a Santa Rosa police dog last month in a hit-and-run.
Boz, an 8-year-old Belgian malinois, died Dec. 27 after getting loose from a fenced yard. He was hit on Petaluma Hill Road, south of the Santa Rosa city limits.
He was found on the road by his handler, Officer George Berg, who had been out looking for Boz.
The CHP is hoping witnesses to the hit-and-run will call CHP Officer Shawn Hopkins at 588-1400 with information that will lead to the suspect.
"It is a significant loss to the police department," Santa Rosa Police Lt. John Noland said.
The department pays between $15,000 and $20,000 for a canine and the training it takes to get the animal ready to start the job, Noland said. That cost doesn't include subsequent training and care, including monthly courses and veterinary bills.
Police officials were still investigating how Boz got loose.
"It's a fenced yard and sometimes dogs find their way over fences or under fences," Noland said.
Boz and Berg worked together for more than five years, responding to calls throughout Santa Rosa and Sonoma County. Boz helped find numerous suspects, often rousting them out of hiding spots or helping stop someone fleeing a crime scene, police said.
Boz was one of five Santa Rosa police dogs. The animals serve between five and eight years on the force and are all trained in drug detection, protection and apprehension.
Boz attended briefings and debriefings during each shift and became close with many in the police force, Noland said.
Noland wouldn't comment on whether Berg might face consequences for Boz' death because he said that was an internal personnel matter. However, he said canine handlers are responsible for the dog's care "both on and off duty."
Fireworks spooked another Santa Rosa police dog named Taz during 2010 Fourth of July festivities and led him to leap over two fences. The 4-year-old Belgian malinois spent the night roaming Windsor, as did his partner Santa Rosa police Sgt. Mike Clark who searched for his partner until dawn.
A veterinarian found Taz the next morning in Forestville.
Police-trained dogs aren't a threat to the public because they've learned to utilize their law enforcement skills when directed by their handlers. Otherwise, they behave like any well-trained dog, Noland said.
Two weeks after Boz was struck, CHP officials hope witnesses to the hit-and-run crash will come forward.
Drivers who strike a domesticated animal, such as a dog or cat, are required to stop and tio try to contact an owner, CHP Sgt. John Evans said.
Pets are considered property and the vehicle violation is the same as if a driver had struck a car or property.
You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at randi.rossmann @pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 521-5220 or julie.johnson@ pressdemocrat.com.