Metro Vancouver Transit Police welcomed two new members to its canine unit at a formal badge ceremony Thursday night. While the dogs are new to the force, their names may be familiar.

In a new initiative, the police dogs, who have undergone lengthy training to sniff out guns, ammunition, and explosives on public transit, have been named after fallen police officers.

One of the new members is an 18-month-old black Labrador retriever named Chopper. It’s the nickname of Ryan “Chopper” Masales, an officer with the Abbotsford Police Department who succumbed to a rare form of brain cancer in 2020 at 46 years old.

Masales’ widow, Estelize, and son, Ryder, attended the badge ceremony.

“To see the name Chopper, I’m happy and sad all at the same time,” said Masales. “But very grateful.”

“It makes me feel good because I know they remember my dad,” added Ryder, 10.

The second new police dog is a Harnett, a two-year-old German shorthaired pointer. She’s named after Sgt. Andrew Harnett of the Calgary Police Service, who was struck and killed in the line of duty by a fleeing vehicle during a traffic stop in 2020.

The dogs, along with their handlers, will be kept quite busy.

“The handler team patrols the transit system - buses, SkyTrains, SeaBus - and interact with thousands of commuters every hour in a very hectic and unpredictable environment,” said Sgt. Gord McGuinness of Metro Vancouver Transit Police’s Canine Unit.

It’s through each of those interactions with the public, McGuinness said, that the names and legacies of Chopper and Harnett will live on.

“On any given hour, on any given day, people will hear the names Chopper and Harnett shouted out proudly, echoing throughout the Metro Vancouver transit system as these canines work hard in their service to the public,” said McGuinness.

“(Ryan) was a dog lover. He would have been very honoured if he was here today,” added Masales.

McGuinness also quipped that Chopper is known to be rambunctious at times. Masales said it’s another similarity he shares with his namesake.

“It’s good to see Chopper is a little crazy,” she said jokingly. “That’s very fitting.”