Injured Cedar City K-9 Recovering After Surgery


(KUTV) A police dog is recovering at home in Cedar City after undergoing surgery for neck injuries sustained while assisting officers in an arrest.

Pajko, a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois, lost function of his legs after a man police were trying apprehend “slammed on top” of the dog, according to court charging documents.

“He’s a fantastic dog,” said Officer Jason Thomas, Pajko’s handler. “He actually worked with the SEAL Team Six.”

Thomas has only been Pajko’s handler for just over a year, but says their bond is strong.

“It’s hard to describe what that bond is between a K-9 handler and that working dog; it’s special,” Thomas said. “We put our lives in their hands.”

Merrill Orlando Rust, 48, is charged with causing injury to a police service dog, a third-degree felony, and other charges including possession of marijuana, drug paraphernalia, possession of a firearm by a restricted person and failure to obey police commands.

Cedar City Police officers were dispatched around 4:30 p.m. Thursday to check on Rust, who was reported to be suicidal. Officers found his car near a water tank on Nichols Canyon Road, located in the foothills east of town.

“While officers were attempting to establish communication with Rust, he fired a single gunshot into the air,” Sgt. Jimmy Roden wrote in a statement about the incident. “Rust then hiked deeper into the foothills east of the water tank.”

Several hours later, as the day grew dark, Rust walked towards police, gun in hand and refused commands to drop the gun and stop, according to police.

“We followed Merrill [Rust] for about 50 yards and he threw the gun in the sage brush and continued walking away from us,” reads the probable cause statement. “Officer Thomas deployed his service dog Pajko, to stop Merrill.”

The court document goes on to say that Pajko did his job and hit Rust in the back, causing him to fall. But that Rust then “turned and slammed on top of Pajko which caused Pajko to disengage due to extreme injury.”

“Pajko yelped,” Officer Thomas recalls. “He wasn’t able to coordinate his legs; he was chewing on his front paws really bad.”

As officers tried to evaluate Pajko’s injuries, Thomas says Rust assaulted the dog again, causing further injury.

Officers took Pajko to Las Vegas for treatment. Doctors found two herniated disks in his neck and operated Saturday. The surgery was successful and Pajko is able to walk again but is currently under heavy sedation to help him recover.

“Right now he’s not guaranteed to come back,” Thomas said of Pajko returning to police service. “We’re extremely hopeful and the surgery was successful but even the veterinarian is still: ‘It could go either way.’”

To help with Pajko’s medical expenses and other costs associated with his recovery, the group Friends of Iron County Police K9 is accepting donations. Here is a link to the group’s Facebook page:


Police announces death of beloved K9 ‘Justice’

EDMOND — Police are investigating the possibility that a faulty vehicle air conditioner caused the death of a beloved Edmond K-9 officer.

“It is with great sadness that we must report the death of one of our beloved K-9 dogs, Justice,” said Edmond Police Department spokeswoman Jenny Monroe.

Monday afternoon, Justice’s handler found him lethargic in the back of the handler’s squad car, Monroe said. He was rushed to the vet where he later died, Monroe said.

It appears Justice overheated, Monroe said.

Officers were inspecting the vehicle’s air conditioner unit to help determine what contributed to the cause of his death, Monroe said. The vehicle was running with the AC left on during the time Justice was in the vehicle.

Justice was primarily used as a single purpose, non-aggressive dog within the Edmond Public Schools to detect illegal narcotics, Monroe said.

In September 2010, The Edmond Sun reported the story of how Justice came to the Edmond Police Department from the city’s Animal Welfare Center. He was a stray black Labrador brought into the shelter. A police officer told Edmond Animal Welfare Officer Michael Reynolds the Police Department was looking for a suitable dog for its K-9 division.

One day, Reynolds was in the shelter, looking among the dogs for a candidate, a dog possessing a lot of energy and drive. He came to a group of three labs. One of them, the black Labrador, was different.

“There was just something about him, his actions,” Reynolds said. “He acted like he was bored and wanted to go out and play.”

Reynolds gave Edmond’s K-9 division a call and the dog, who would be named Justice, began a new life, a journey toward becoming a police dog. Justice was paired with School Resource Officer Dack Pearson, who said man and dog went through an initial pre-training bonding period that included a lot of playtime.

Justice was certified by the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics to find marijuana, cocaine, meth and heroin. Several times due to his ability to find drugs Justice made headlines.


Boone law enforcement ends large-scale drug investigation

Narcotics investigators with the Boone Police Department and the Ashe County Sheriff’s Office ended a large-scale drug investigation Tuesday evening.

In a separate case, another suspect was arrested in connection with illegal possession of marijuana. The large-scale drug investigation ended early Tuesday evening when a suspect was arrested during a counter-drug operation in Boone.

Officers had learned earlier that a methamphetamine trafficker from the Atlanta area was making a large delivery to a location in Boone, according to the Boone Police Department.

Officers identified the suspect as Mauricio “Mario” Baltazar, 20, of  5277 Ahyoka Drive Lake City, Ga.    The agencies planned a covert counter-drug operation to intercept the methamphetamine shipment and arrest the suspect.

The agencies were assisted by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, according to the Police Department.

During the operation, Boone Police K-9 Maus and her handler Master Police Officer J. Warren were also involved.    Maus was used to search the suspect’s vehicle. Maus alerted officers to the presence of drugs inside the vehicle, and approximately one-half pound of crystal methamphetamine was seized.    This amount of methamphetamine has a street value of $22,000, police said.

Baltazar was charged with two counts of trafficking in methamphetamine and is currently in the Watauga County Jail under a $75,000 bond. He is scheduled to appear in court on May 28.    “This operation represents the very core mission of our narcotics unit. The goal of every drug case we investigate is to identify and arrest the individuals responsible for importing illegal drugs into our town,” said Police Chief Dana Crawford.

In a separate case, Boone officers also involved Warren and Maus in another investigation that day. Officer R. Blevins conducted a traffic stop for a vehicle for speeding and an equipment violation.

The driver was identified as Jerry Dean Osborne, 20, of 185 Village Drive, Apartment 1410, Wilkesboro.

Blevins suspected a controlled substance was involved. He called Warren and Maus to the scene to assist.

Maus led officers to search the trunk of the vehicle, which revealed approximately one-half pound of marijuana and a book bag containing more than $20,000.

Narcotics investigators were called to the scene and took over the investigation.

After an interview with the suspect, narcotics investigators said they have reason to believe the suspect was in Boone to distribute marijuana.

Investigators also believe the money was the proceeds of illegal drug sales, police said.

Osborne was arrested and charged with the felony possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana, felony manufacture of marijuana by packaging and felony maintaining a vehicle to keep a controlled substance.    Osborne  was taken to the Watauga County Jail under a $3,000 bond.

“Master Police Officer Warren and K9 Maus were crucial in both of these situations. Dogs like Maus are so beneficial to law enforcement. MPO Warren and K9 Maus are a great team and they serve our citizens well. They both did a fantastic job during these cases,” said Sgt. Chris Hatton.

If anyone has information about the location of illegal drugs, but wants to remain anonymous, they can call Crimestoppers.

Crimestoppers can be reached 24 hours a day at (828) 268-6959.

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Brunswick’s newest K-9 officer is off to fast start

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After eight years of “distinguished service,” in the words of Brunswick Police Sergeant and K-9 Unite Supervisor Jon Page, Brunswick police K-9 Blackjack has retired.

And while Blackjack begins his retirement with his handler, Officer Mark Luciano, his successor has seemingly picked up right where Blackjack left off.

“He began two weeks ago and I think he has made five arrests, so he is obviously good,” said Brunswick Police Chief Carl Deforest.

Luciano was selected to be Nico’s handler and the department’s newest employee completed training. on April 5.

The K-9 team was certified by the state of Ohio for patrol and narcotics work, Page explained.

“K9 Nico will perform numerous police functions, to include drug searches, crowd control, search and apprehension of fleeing individuals, tracking of lost persons, building searches and recovery of evidence from crimes,” Page said.

Nico, a 1-year-old, 65-pound Belgian Malinois, was born in Holland and imported to Shallow Creek Kennels in Pennsylvania where the team training took place, Page said.

Luciano and Nico will be working the department’s 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. shift, Page said, as well as being available for pre-scheduled community events, Page said, noting that requests for further information or for the teams attendance at community events should be directed to Page at 330-225-9111.

Deforest said the department has high expectations for Nico, as it did for Blackjack.

“They (Blackjack and Luciano) do a great job arresting drug violators and locating suspects and items through searches,” the chief said. “The (new) team is off to a great start.”

He added that the department’s K-9 program has also provided an opportunity to share resources with Brunswick Hill Police.

“We recently entered into an agreement that allows for us to use their canine vehicle for Officer Luciano and Nico, as Brunswick Hills Police had limited application or use for the specialized vehicle after disbanding their canine program last year,” Deforest said. “This is an excellent example of the teamwork and effort to do what is best for both communities and I appreciate the township trustees and Chief Mackay’s willingness to enter into such an agreement.”

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Helicopter, K9 Units Assist in Search for Armed Suspect

A 33-year-old man was arrested on Broadmoor Drive Saturday after police received reports of a man with a gun.

La Mesa police were assisted by a sheriff’s helicopter after they received a call Saturday morning that a man was possibly armed with a handgun and saying that he had killed somebody, according to a police spokesman.

Officers spotted the man in the 9500 block of Broadmoor Drive around 10 a.m. and gave chase when he took off on foot. A police K9 unit responded, along with a sheriff’s helicopter and El Cajon police, and the suspect was soon found on Broadmoor Drive.

When the suspect was taken into custody he had a collapsible baton and pepper spray, according to police. A firearm was not found.

The suspect, Brian Alexander McGowan, 33, was booked into San Diego Central Jail for possession of a leaded cane and illegal use of tear gas, both felonies. According to jail records, McGowan is being held on $20,000 bond.


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St. Clair Shores Police K9 Officer Dies Following Surgical Complications


St. Clair Shores Police K9 Officer Chase died this past week following surgical complications, the police department released.

Chase, was a 3-year-old Dutch Shepherd, who joined the force in 2011. He took the place of Ivan, who retired early this in 2011.

Chase was assigned to handler Officer Gerald Chomos, and lived with Chomos.

“Our department cherishes our animals and considers them to be members of our police family,” Deputy Chief of Police Glenn Bowlin wrote in an email announcing the passing of Chase.


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Galt Police Department Loses Last K9 To Accident, Waiting On New Recruits

GALT (CBS13) – The Galt Police Department is facing a major setback after losing two of its K9 officers.

If you’re a bad guy, you definitely don’t want to meet Bo the dog on the streets of Galt.

“Never complains, he’s always jumping at the door ready to go,” said Officer Brian Nino.

Whether it’s sniffing out drugs or protecting his partner, Bo is always ready.

“He does everything at about 150 percent. He doesn’t like to slow down, but unfortunately he’s going to have to, to prevent future injury,” said Nino.

Over the weekend, Bo was at an event showing off his takedown skills, but he landed wrong — breaking his ankle. Now he may need metal plates put in his leg.

“That’s what the surgeon is going to look at today, potentially put some plates in there today so he will have some good mobility for the remainder of his retirement,” said Nino.

Bo’s injury is too great for him to keep going.

This is the second dog to leave the Galt Police Department this year.

“It’s been an extremely difficult year up to this point,” said Nino.

Officer Kevin Tonn was shot and killed by a man during a burglary call in January. Tonn’s dog, Yaro, retired after his death.

Now Galt doesn’t have any K9s working the streets.

“We’re hoping that we’ll have a dog in the next couple of months, and they will go through a five week training program,” said Nino.

As for Bo, he’ll spend his retirement with his partner of seven years whom he loves so much.

“He’s part of the family and that’s why, once he retires, there is no other place for him at home than with us,” said Nino.

The Galt Police Department says it will pay for two new dogs with money raised by the community.


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K9 sniffs out 11 lbs of marijuana during a traffic stop

​COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Two South Carolina men are in jail after a police dog sniffed out 11 pounds of pot in their car during a traffic stop.

The State of Columbia reported Friday ( ) that John Desmond Kelly and Harvey Jai Johnson are both charged with trafficking marijuana. Both men are in their late 20s.

Columbia police said it was no coincidence the drug-sniffing K9 was around. Officers said they watched the men leave a residence being monitored because of suspected drug activity.

Officers who quickly stopped their car reported smelling raw and burned marijuana. They also seized about $5,000 in cash.

Kelly and Johnson were booked into the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center. Officials at the jail had no information about whether the pair had yet hired lawyers.

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K9s4COPs gives dog to Cambria County Sheriff’s Department


EBENSBURG, CAMBRIA COUNTY— The Cambria County Sheriff’sDepartment will be getting a new K-9 officer for free.

The department was recently chosen as one of six nationwide to receive the dog trained from K9s4Cops.

“I never thought we would receive something like this,” said Deputy Steve Szymusiak.

‘We are very excited about getting a dog trained by the nations best, like Delta Forces and Navy Seals,” said Sheriff Bob Kollar.  “This is not costing the tax payers a dime.”

Szymusiak is the K9 officer for the county, his current partner, Ali, will be retiring due to health complications.   The department was faced to come up with more than $10,000 to get a new K9.

‘We were trying to raise funds through a basket raffle,” said Szymusiak.

Through this grant which pays for the dog and its training won’t cost the county any money.  Szymusiak is disappointed to loose Ali as a partner but he will enjoy his retirement with Szymusiak and his family and welcome to dog.

The basket raffle will still be held April 28, 2013; proceeds will no go to buying safety equipment like a bullet proof vest for the dog.


Injured Fontana Police Dog Likely to Make Full Recovery

Steve Bechtold, a Fontana police officer, pets Jaris, his partner, on Tuesday. Jaris was thrown out of a second-story window by a parolee and may need surgery to treat head injuries. Police are hopeful the dog will return to work.

A Fontana police dog may need surgery for head injuries after he was thrown out of a second-story window by a wanted parolee, police said Tuesday.

Jaris, a 6 1/2-year-old Belgian malinois, was taken to a veterinary specialist in Orange County on Monday for X-rays.

Police had hoped Jaris would be back at work next week, but on Tuesday they noticed more swelling on his “As much as we thought he was out of the woods, he’s not,” said police Sgt. Tom Yarrington.

nose and a bulge on his forehead.

Police sent Jaris into a home in the 9500 block of Mango Avenue on Sunday to take Bryan Bills, 28, of Fontana into custody.

Bills was listed as an armed and dangerous parolee who was wanted back in custody.

When the dog ran toward Bills, the man used the dog’s momentum to throw him out of an open window. Jaris fell and landed on his head on the concrete below.

On Monday, Fontana police were unsure if Jaris had suffered brain damage from the fall.

A veterinarian who specializes in police service dogs found no other injuries besides a large gash on the dog’s head. But officers on Tuesday noticed swelling on Jaris.

Police said the veterinary specialist suggested it could be from damage between his sinus and brain. The specialist asked police to bring the dog in for another examination.

Jaris appeared to be in good spirits Tuesday, despite being sedated and having a bandage around his head. Officer Steve Bechtold comforted his canine colleague.

“He’s my partner. He’s with me 24/7,” Bechtold said.

Reporter Josh Dulaney contributed to this report.

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