Seattle business owner: 'SPD K9 saved my Christmas'

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by HEATHER GRAF / KING 5 News

khou.com

Posted on December 19, 2013 at 11:48 AM

When a Queen Anne business was broken into and robbed, SPD Officer Mark Wong and his dog, Ziva, tracked down the thief and $7,000 worth of jewelry, purses, candles, and other merchandise.

It happened at Charley & May on Queen Anne Avenue.

Owner Lauren Formicola says she was home at about three a.m. Wednesday morning when the in-store alarm alerted her something was wrong.

"When I first drove up, I saw a guy in my shop," she said.  "And I called 911 and I'm like hurry up, he's out there filling bags with my stuff!"

Officers with the Seattle Police Department arrived just a few minutes later, but by then the suspect had ran away, stolen merchandise in hand.

One of the officers suggested they call the K9 unit in to search for him.

That's when Officer Mark Wong and his six-year-old dog, Ziva, arrived on the scene.  Formicola says at that point, the burglar didn't stand a chance.

"It was amazing," she said.  "The dog got the guy and we have all the merchandise, 99 percent of it.  It turned out great, I mean that little dog saved Christmas!"

Since the holiday season is usually her busiest month of the year, Formicola says the dog likely saved her small, family-owned business as well.  She gets choked up when she talks about it.

"Normally you just don't get your stuff back, and I wouldn't have had really anything of value to sell during the holidays if he had gotten away with it, if the dog hadn't found him.  It's just really hard to think about," she said.

She was also able to open her shop at 9 a.m. Wednesday.  She spent the entire day sharing the good news with customers.

Just before closing time, Officer Wong and Ziva returned to the store, so Formicola could thank them.  She even gave Ziva a bone.

The German Shepard is one of only two female tracking dogs in the entire state.  Wong and Ziva have been working together for about three years.

"When we got into that alley, I could tell she knew he was back there," said Wong.

The 52-year-old suspect was found hiding beneath a car.  He was booked into the King County Jail for investigation of felony burglary.

Now, customers at Charley & May will see a sign with a picture of Officer Wong and Ziva at the shop's door, thanking them for their hard work.

"I thought it would be a good way to give it some visibility, because the K9 unit, people need to know, this is the reason why we have the K9 unit.  I'm so grateful," she said.

Ziva's brother is also a Seattle Police Canine.

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