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Police K-9 recovers after breaking leg while apprehending suspect

K-9 Maverick - Photo courtesy Portland Police Bureau

PORTLAND, Ore. – A police dog is recovering after he was hurt while taking down an erratic suspect in Portland a week ago.

K-9 Maverick, a 7-year-old German Shepherd, suffered a broken leg last Monday while apprehending two suspects who police say were carrying replica firearms.

Police dog handler Officer Lonn Sweeney tells KATU News that Maverick was biting one of the suspects he was hit in the leg by a 40 mm less-lethal foam ball (similar to the one pictured below). Police fired the round at the suspect after K-9 Maverick's bites seemed to be ineffective.

The round is not made to pierce the skin, but feels as if you got hit by a fastball.

The police canine’s bone was shattered, and veterinarians at DoveLewis Animal Hospital used a metal plate and several screws to stabilize it through surgery. Afterward, they used a splint and soft cast to protect Maverick’s leg from further injury.

"The bone's stabilized and he is comfortable on it now," Dr. Ashley Magee told KATU. "I think that if healing continues as we expected to, he could make a full recovery."

Doctors kept him at the vet for several days until surgery was complete. He returned Monday for a post-op check-up.

“This is all new territory for me,” said Ofc. Sweeney who is with Maverick through the recovery process. “For the first eight weeks it will be important that he just doesn't... that it stays fairly immobile."

Maverick has been on the force since 2012. He's credited with more than 120 captures so far.

"These [dogs] are so efficient," Sweeney said, "and are so amazing at finding people hiding."

In two months, Maverick can begin rehabilitation, which will start with light exercise and underwater treadmill work in the pool, before he can engage in more rigorous physical activity.

"I don’t want him to re-injure himself while the healing process is going on," Sweeney told KATU. "That’s going to be the hardest thing."

Once medically cleared, in four to six months, Maverick is expected to return to duty.

"That’s a spot right there, huh buddy?" Sweeney said, petting Maverick, "that’s a good boy!"

While Maverick is recovering, Sweeney will continue training new canine handlers.

There are ten dogs in PPB's canine unit.

"I’ve been a patrol handler for 13 years now," Sweeney said, "and I just love every minute of it."

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