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Aurora cop champions ‘fierce’ pit bull

Police Officer Christopher Grandchamp his dog Shield

Police Officer Christopher Grandchamp and his dog Shield

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Updated: March 25, 2013 6:29AM

A misunderstood pit bull, now aptly named Shield, owes his life to an Aurora police officer with the equally appropriate name — Officer Christopher Grandchamp.

This warm and fuzzy dog tale begins Feb. 8, when the 23-year-old rookie cop was working the night shift and received a call around 9 p.m. about a “fierce” dog on an elderly woman’s porch that was not allowing her to bring her Chihuahua inside.

When Grandchamp arrived, he found a small crowd of onlookers keeping their distance — some standing behind a fence — from the “fierce” pit bull that was now “lying in the driveway, shivering and whimpering.” When the officer began petting her, the animal warmed up to him immediately — and in fact followed him to his squad car.

Grandchamp opened the back door for her, but she was afraid to get in, so he picked the stray up and placed her inside. Then he turned up the heat in the squad and fed her a bag of potato chips, “which she loved.” While the dog had shown no aggression — she enjoyed rubbing her head against the policeman’s hand — Grandchamp had no choice but to follow protocol and turn her over to Aurora Animal Control, which arrived a few minutes later.

But he couldn’t get his mind off the pit bull over the weekend. So the following Monday, Grandchamp called the shelter to check on her. That’s when he was told the dog had been “flagged as aggressive” from the vet’s visit and would have to be euthanized at the end of the day.

Grandchamp begged for another chance for the dog, and the shelter agreed to wait a week to see what happened with the next visit from the vet.

The following day, Grandchamp donned his uniform and visited the stray, which was “so happy to see me” she jumped at him through the cage, eagerly licking his hand. That’s when he thought: I love this dog. I really want to save her. That’s also when he decided to name her Shield.

The problem was, because the dog had been labeled aggressive, the shelter couldn’t adopt her to an individual due to liability issues. So with the aid of his sister Amy Reinboldt, a technician at an Oswego vet clinic, Grandchamp reached out to rescue groups, and within hours he was inundated with people wanting to help. Among those was Megan Scholl Lindberg from Don’t Bully My Breed, a pit bull rescue based out of Peoria. Her husband Mike visited the shelter on Tuesday, declaring Shield “the sweetest dog ever.”

You get one guess as to who her new owner is.

That same day the rescue dropped Shield off at Grandchamp’s Fox Valley home, the pit bull quickly made friends with the other two dogs, including Copper, the German shepherd/boxer mix the officer got three years ago from animal control.

Shield, who is between 4 and 5 years old, also went through a battery of temperament tests through a Geneva training center, said Grandchamp, “and passed with flying colors.” He hopes this dog tale illustrates how breeds can often be unfairly judged — and that if pit bulls are treated and trained properly, they are the best pets in the world.

Most people look at pit bulls and they see an angry fighting dog, Grandchamp notes, which is why “they get death sentences they don’t deserve. When he looks at Shield, the officer sees something totally different.

“No question,” he says, “she’s a lover.”

In other happy “tails”...

After four weeks and four days on the loose, Tank is finally home. The black lab mix that made his great escape in the parking lot of a Yorkville veterinary hospital that first week in January is 17 pounds lighter, had a little frostbite, some scratches, ticks and a mangled tail — but “he’s going to be just fine,” said his relieved owner, Renea Selders of Oswego.

More than 800 people followed the hunt for Tank on social media sites. And it was with the help of those passionate dog people that she and boyfriend Greg Zimmerman got Tank home. They knew where he was hiding out and tried unsuccessfully to trap him for weeks. The wily mutt was always able to outsmart them until a new online friend purchased a huge cage, and another dog lover welded together a large step trigger. The contraption, along with a big slab of ham and “really stinky cheese,” got the job done.

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