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K9 Officer Inspires Selfless Service

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As a United States Marine, former youth pastor, and now police sergeant, Mark Tappan has always wanted to make a difference. “At the end of the day, I wanted what I did to matter. I wanted to stand for something greater than myself,” he shares. That’s what led him into police work.

When Mark patrolled, he realized the value dogs could bring to his job. Their ability to track humans and apprehend suspects is invaluable. He explains, “The thing that sets dogs apart is not only their nose work but their relationships with people.” Mark learned to work with dogs from his dad who trained Labrador Retrievers.

When Mark first met Mattis, he thought he was too big. Weighing almost 100 pounds, Mark knew Mattis would be a lot to handle. He wanted a Belgian Malinois since they typically weigh 60-80 pounds. When he tested the dogs to see which would be the best fit, Mattis was the best all around! Mark fell in love with him and the rest is history.  


While in hot pursuit of two suspects, Mattis jumped down a 30-foot wall to catch them. Mattis suffered a lacerated liver and internal bleeding but didn’t give up until both men were in custody. Mattis was awarded the Purple Heart of Valor for his heroic actions. He honorably served with Mark for six years before retiring on March 17, 2021, when his body began to show signs of wear and tear. His courageous service in patrolling, apprehension, tracking, and narcotics detection made him one of the most decorated police dogs in the history of his department—assisting in over 200 arrests and intercepting more than $2,000,000 in cash seized. 

Mark explains, “The next day, March 18, was hard. In the morning Mattis ran to his harness to get ready for work. I sat on the floor with him and cried. I tried to explain to him that he couldn’t come with me. He walked to the front door, confused. I left, and all day I felt empty.” 

Mark continues his police work but will not get another K-9 partner while he still has Mattis. Mattis still gets to do his favorite activities like scent tracking, outdoor adventures, and playing ball. Their social media following of over 5,000,000 people keeps them busy sharing their lives with those who can’t get enough of the heroic dog.


In his book, A Dog Named Mattis, Mark shares the twelve lessons he’s learned from his dog, like:
•    Go All In (Colossians 3:23)
•    Build Bridges, Not Walls (Joh, 13:35)
•    Pride is the Enemy (Matthew 23:12)
•    Build on a Firm Foundation (Matthew 7:24)
•    Persistence Pays Off (James 1:12)
•    Trust the Plan (Proverbs 3:5-6)
•    Complacency Is a Killer (Proverbs 1:32)
•    God Works for the Good (Romans 8:28)
•    Be Strong and Courageous (Deuteronomy 31:6)
•    Keep Your Eyes on What’s Most Important (Proverbs 3:5)
•    Let Your Light Shine (1 Corinthians 10:31)
•    Boast About Your Weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9)

To purchase Mark Tappan's book, A Dog Named Mattis, please visit the link:

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About The Author

Angell Vasko

Angell Vasko joined CBN in 1999. Acting as Floor Producer and Guest Coordinating Producer for The 700 Club, Angell briefs the cohosts before the live show and acts as a liaison between the control room and show talent during the broadcast.