Mukilteo police officer awarded for saving dog’s life
A Mukilteo police officer has received an award for preventing a pit bull named Patience from dying.
Officer Shanita Duke was honored on Oct. 9 with the Mukilteo Police Department’s Lifesaving Award. The award recognized her heroic actions that resulted in saving a life that might otherwise have been lost.
Mukilteo’s animal control officer, Duke was nominated by officers Joe Evans and Brenda Greenmun. She is now also a nominee for a Red Cross Real Heroes Award.
“Although this rescue was a dog, it is in keeping with Shanita’s high level of professionalism and care for her charges,” Police Chief Rex Caldwell said. “I don’t know of anyone else on the staff who could have performed this task as calmly or expertly as Officer Duke.
“[I] thank Officer Duke for her excellent service to all of the four-legged, winged, furry, wild and domestic residents of our community.”
He said this is the first Lifesaving Award bestowed for saving an animal’s life in Mukilteo and the first he’s seen in his 32 years in law enforcement.
Around 5:15 p.m. on Sept. 1, Duke was called from home to assist in the warrant arrest of a woman on the 8800 block of 45th Place W. in Mukilteo. Inside her car were two aggressive pit bulls that were protective of the owner.
“The dogs were obviously pretty agitated because their mom was getting arrested,” Duke said. “The window was cracked, but they were getting heat stress. They were just agitated from the whole situation.”
The owner could not be allowed to re-enter the car to turn on the air conditioning or roll windows down further because she was a “flight risk” and may have fled, Caldwell said.
Officers asked Duke to assist with the two dogs. As the animal control officer, she has years of experience dealing with aggressive dogs and extracting them from cars.
She saw that the pit bulls were in severe distress from the heat and stress of the situation, and quickly devised a plan to keep herself and the other officers safe.
“We knew action must be taken quickly because of the time of day,” Officer Joe Evans wrote. “Both dogs had been locked in the vehicle for some time, and it was very warm outside.”
Temperatures in Mukilteo hit a high of 78 degrees at 5 p.m. – meaning it was at least 97 degrees inside the car, and probably closer to 119 degrees, according to Animal Control data.
Duke fed catch poles through the open window and snared each of the pit bulls. Another officer held onto the second snare, as Duke led one of the dogs out of the car.
As she was putting the first pit bull into the air conditioned Animal Control truck, the officer holding the other snare called out to Duke: The second dog still in the car, Patience, had tangled herself in the snare and collapsed.
“Without hesitation, Officer Shanita Duke ran over to the vehicle and assessed Patience,” Evans wrote. “It was clear she was not breathing. She was laying in the backseat, lifeless.”
Duke pulled the dog out of the car and immediately started CPR, both giving breaths through its muzzle and pumping its chest. After about a minute, Patience was breathing on her own.
“My training just kicked in, and it was ‘OK, this is what I need to do,’ and I just did it,” she said.
Patience was transported to an emergency veterinary clinic in Lynnwood, where she was treated for heat exhaustion.
The dog was dehydrated, needed an IV and had a temperature of 102.5, but she was going to be OK.
“Without doubt, I fully believe if it was not for Officer Shanita Duke’s quick thinking and extraordinary action, Patience would not have survived,” Evans wrote.
Duke has worked for the Mukilteo Police Department for seven years.
She was a vet-tech for 16 years in Arizona and has trained animals for 20 years. In Arizona, she saw a lot of dogs with heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
A humble Duke declined an award presentation at the Oct. 7 City Council meeting, and instead received her award from Chief Caldwell in private.
“I’m not about recognition, as a general rule,” she said. “I was just doing my job, what I was trained to do.
“Anytime a dog is saved, it’s truly a group effort.”
Duke pointed out that even though these were pit bulls, they were not bad dogs. In that situation, she said any breed of dog would have reacted in the same way.
“Pit bulls get a horrible rap,” Duke said, “but in 20 some years, I’ve been bitten by many dogs, but never a pit bull.”