A photo of her late mother, Laura Ellis, and 42 Division partner Ron Tait cradling a German Shepherd they had rescued holds a special place in Paige Ellis’ bedroom.
Constable Ellis was killed in the line of duty in February 2002 when the police cruiser she and Tait were driving to a break-and-enter call struck a motorist making a U-turn at a Scarborough intersection. The car spun out of control and slammed into a utility pole. Ellis died at the collision scene.
On Sunday, June 29, Paige – just 13 months old when her mother died – was introduced to Police Dog Services (PDS) newest recruit, a German Shepherd named Ellis, who is specially trained to detect explosives.
“Paige loves dogs,” said her father, Tim Ellis. “She adores that picture in her room and to have a dog – a German Shepherd – named in her mom’s honour is wonderful. It means a lot to her and our family.”
He was at home readying Paige for the day and waiting for Laura to return home from the overnight shift when then-Chief Julian Fantino showed up at their residence with the grim news.
Police Dog Services Constable John Massey conceived the idea to name the dog after the fallen officer. He was with her on D platoon for a month before she died and responded to the collision scene that took her life.
“I never went on the road with Laura but, from our brief interactions and talking to other officers who knew her really well, she was an amazing woman and very good police officer,” said Massey, who joined the Service 14 years ago and has been assigned to PDS since September 2009. “I could have given this dog any name without meaning, but I felt it was important to name it after Laura who paid the ultimate price by giving her life in the line of duty.”
Massey also works with Jetta – a general purpose dog.
Ellis will protect lives and keep our city safe while perpetuating Laura’s legacy and letting her family know that we will never forget her.
Deputy Chief Mark Saunders said the naming of a police dog after a fallen officer is a fitting tribute.
“All of our officers are incredibly brave people who risk their lives each and every day to help keep our city safe,” he said. “Ellis will protect lives and keep our city safe while perpetuating Laura’s legacy and letting her family know that we will never forget her.”
Purchased from the Czech Republic, 16-month-old Ellis was certified with flying colours three weeks ago. He also joins Storm, Scout, By-Tor, Swinger and Ace as an explosive detection dog.
“Ellis and his trainer endured a rigorous eight-week training program,” said Staff Sergeant James Hung. “This dog was trained how to get used to commercial-grade explosive odours and also to find them without doing any touching.”