The Bellingham Police Canine Unit was officially established on April 21, 1969, at a presentation before the city council and Mayor Reg Williams. Police Chief Cecil Klein explained that the dogs would be useful for tracking, building searches, apprehensions, and crowd control. Officer Dan Burch and K9 Stoney, with Officer Gene Gilbert and K9 King, were the first two canine teams for the department.
Since first established, the K9 teams have been responsible for the arrest of almost every classification of crime, including murder. Some dogs have been hurt while apprehending suspects, including Rok, who was stabbed, and Zeke, who was shot (both survived their injuries). Though other departments had previously experimented with the use of canines in police work, the Bellingham Police Department has had the longest continually running canine unit in the State of Washington. The success of the Bellingham K9 Unit has continued for so many years due to the quality of dogs, the dedication and determination of their handlers, and the support of the department and community.