Shelia Stogsdill

Special to the Grove Sun

JAY — Delaware County sheriff’s deputy Steve Brownell admits he has the tenacity of a bulldog as he fights to help save the life of his canine partner who is battling cancer.

Chico, a brown with a black face Belgium Malionis shepherd, was diagnosed last week with lymphoma cancer.

“He’s a dedicated member of the force,” Brownell said as he gently caresses the dog’s thick brown coat. “He risked his life to save mine and I want to make sure he is well taken care,” he said.

Brownell suspected something wasn’t right with his partner of four years when he noticed two knots under Chico’s throat.

“Since he has been sick, he rides with me, but he is unable to work,” Brownell said.

Chico started his chemotherapy regime, which is expected to last four to six months, last week.

His treatments will be at Dr. Darlene Wehr’s Jay veterinarian clinic and at the Oklahoma State University small animal hospital in Stillwater. Treatment costs are expected to run around $3,500 but the sheriff’s canine budget cannot absorb that kind of expense, he said.

Because of the close ties with the grade school students, several Delaware County schools are raising funds to help pay for Chico’s chemotherapy treatments. In addition to being a tracking canine for the sheriff’s department, Chico also serves as a D.A.R.E. dog for several of the smaller rural schools in southern Delaware County.

“He loves going to school and he loves the kids,” Brownell said. “He is part of my family as well as the sheriff’s department. Everybody loves him.”

Chico is the first canine dog used by the sheriff’s department and one of three dogs on staff, he said. The dog’s ability to track down missing persons in a short amount of time is legendary, Brownell said.

“He located an Alzheimer’s patient within 15 minutes,” Brownell said.

The four-legged partner that Brownell speaks about with much fondness almost tore through a metal cage to save Brownell’s life when he was wounded in a June 2008 shootout during a routine prowler call.

Anyone interested in helping with Chico’s chemotherapy treatments may make a donation to the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office. For more information, call (918) 253-4531.