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Rejected police dog injures Midvale officer's son
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The toddler son of a Midvale police officer was flown to the hospital after the family's dog -- which failed out of training to become a police dog -- attacked the child.

The boy was alone with the dog in the backyard of his home on Wildberry Circle in Kearns when the dog attacked. His mother found him lying in the grass with the dog standing over him, Sgt. Marcelo Rapela of the Midvale Police Department.

The boy was unconscious when his mother called for help, and he was flown to Primary Children's Medical Center in "extremely critical" condition, said Lt. Don Hutson of the Unified Police Department. Later, after medical staff examined the boy, they found the injuries were not as severe as originally thought. The boy's condition has been upgraded to serious, Rapela said.

The Belgian malinois breed of dog is known for its incredibly strong jaws, Hutson said.

The dog, named Kuna, was purchased to replace the police dog Koda, who died in the line of duty after a suspect shot him on New Year's Day.

Kuna's handlers had attempted to train him to sniff for drugs or find people, but he never passed the necessary requirements due to a degenerative eye disease that was discovered after he was purchased, Rapela said.

When the handlers called the company that sold them the dog, company officials sent out another dog but told the handlers they could keep the untrained dog as a pet. Otherwise, because of the eye condition, the dog would be euthanized upon return to California.

Midvale police Officer Gerry Wayne, who was a former K9 handler, agreed to take the dog home as a pet. Kuna had been at the family's home for only a week, Rapela said.

Police have called in professional handlers to quarantine the dog. No decisions have yet been made about Kuna's fate.

smcfarland@sltrib.com

Midvale » Dog was purchased to replace Koda, who died in the line of duty.
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