Wounded Sacramento police dog survives 5-hour surgery

7:59 PM, Mar 16, 2010   |    comments
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  • Bandit suffered a single gunshot wound to his left side
  • Bandit's partner, Officer Gary Dahl
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SACRAMENTO, CA - A Sacramento police K-9 officer named Bandit underwent five hours of surgery Tuesday for a bullet wound that was more serious than initially thought.

The 4-year-old German shepherd was shot while responding to a reported home invasion.  Police said the suspected robber was later shot and killed by officers.

The incident happened at 8:35 p.m. Monday in the 2000 block of O'Neil Way.  Police spokesman Norm Leong said a 17-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy were inside the home when the suspected robber, said to be in his 30s, forced his way inside. One of those inside the home called 911 and when police showed up, the suspected robber was still inside.

Bandit and his partner, Officer Gary Dahl, were watching the back of the house while other officers covered the front.  Dahl said Bandit was apparently shot while blocking the suspected robber's escape.  The suspected robber was then shot to death at the front of the house when he refused to drop his weapon, according to Leong.

The two people inside the home were found tied up but unhurt, Leong said.  No other officers were injured.

Another man, 23, who police said was communicating with the suspected robber on the phone during the crime, was arrested in the neighborhood.

Bandit was taken to the VCA 24-hour veterinary hospital on Old Winery Place where he was stabilized and given pain killers.  Before the surgery, Dr. Jessica Holland said Bandit's prognosis was good and she initially expected the operation to take between one and two hours, beginning at 1 p.m.

Shortly after 6 p.m., Dahl's wife, Lynette, told News10 the surgery was finally over and had turned out to be more complicated than first thought.  "It sounds like the bullet went in on the left side and traveled all the way around his neck to the right side.  Somehow it missed everything," she said.  "It's a miracle.  He's lucky to be alive."  Lynette Dahl said a solid slug was removed along with bullet fragments.

Earlier in the afternoon, Gary Dahl was emotional at times as he spoke outside the clinic as Bandit was being prepared for surgery.  "He's part of the family.  He's my partner," Dahl said.  "He cuddles up with the kids on the carpet watching cartoons."

Dahl acknowledged that the police dog's main job was to protect other officers, and he gave Bandit credit for taking a bullet that might have killed a colleague.  "He didn't hesitate.  He did exactly what he was supposed to do and he paid a dear price for it," Dahl said.

Leong said investigators have learned the dead man and 23-year-old alleged accomplice were from outside the Sacramento area.  Detectives do not know why the victims' home was targeted, but Leong said it did not appear to be random. 

The five officers involved in the shooting were placed on paid administrative leave per police department policy pending an investigation. The officers have been with the department one, four, four, five and 11 years, Leong said.


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