A Cedar City police dog, a 3-year-old Belgian shepherd named Pajko, is being treated for injuries suffered while helping officers arrest a man in a forest Thursday night.
The police got a call at 4:23 p.m. about a man who was reportedly suicidal. They found his vehicle near a giant water tank, just off Nichols Canyon Road on the far east side of the city where the wooded foothills begin.
The officers found the man in the woods, armed with a handgun. The officers tried talking to him, but he fired a shot into the air and hiked east, deeper into the foothills, according to a police news release.
The officers eventually made contact with him again after dark. The man dropped his gun but didn’t comply with all of the officer’s commands, so they brought out Pajko to help them take the man into custody.
“[Broadly speaking], police service dogs are used when there’s active resistance from a suspect … to reduce risk of injury to officers,” said Sgt. Jimmy Roden.
Pajko engaged the man, who injured the dog before officers could put him in handcuffs. Roden said Friday evening that Pajko suffered a herniated disk in his neck. The dog was taken to a local veterinarian but eventually had to be seen by a specialist in Las Vegas. The injury will require surgery, which was scheduled for Saturday.
“We are cautiously optimistic that if the surgery goes well, and after weeks of recovery and rehab, that K9 Pajko may be able to return to his normal duties,” Roden said in a statement.
Pajko’s handler is staying with him in Nevada.
The department acquired Pajko a little more than a year ago, Roden said.
The man was arrested and booked into Iron County Jail on suspicion of possession of marijuana, drug paraphernalia and a dangerous weapon by a restricted person, as well as failure to stop at the command of a police officer and causing injury to a police service animal.
Tribune reporter Kimball Bennion contributed to this report.