Mo. K9 dies after being shot in head during burglary

By Debby Woodin
The Joplin Globe

JOPLIN, Mo. A police dog shot in the head early Tuesday by a robbery suspect ultimately died, a Joplin police officer said.

Officer Travis Walthall, supervisor of the Joplin Police Department’s K-9 unit, said by telephone Tuesday afternoon that the dog, Cezar, was expected to survive the gunshot wound unless complications arise.

Lt. Geoff Jones said Tuesday night that the department had been informed by Mark Storey, the Joplin veterinarian for the department’s police dogs, that Cezar had died.

“The bullet that hit Cezar struck him above the right eye, slightly to the left of his right eye,” Walthall said. “It did not penetrate the skull although it did fracture it in a couple of places.”

The officer who works with Cezar, Gabe Allen, was off duty and unavailable Tuesday after the shooting to talk about the ordeal or about Cezar’s work record, said Jones.

Jones said Cezar was nearly 8 years old and had been with the department since 2001. Jones said he did not have Cezar’s records immediately available to say how many apprehensions the dog had made or other details about the dog’s background.

Walthall was attending a canine training session. He was at the session with another of the department’s four officers who work with police dogs. Walthall said they were notified by telephone at 4 a.m. Tuesday of the shooting.

“We were both actually sick to our stomachs,” Walthall said of his and his co-worker’s reaction to learning that Cezar had been wounded. “We work together so much, there’s obviously an unbelievable bond between an officer and dog.”

He said the bullet that struck the dog fragmented.

Storey declined to speak to reporters Tuesday afternoon because he was tending the dog, which was described as being in a semi-conscious condition, Jones said.

Walthall, who is training a new dog after retiring his canine partner of six years, Max, said the JPD dogs are trained to bite and hold rather than bark and hold a suspect.

Cezar is among about 450 police dogs at work in the state of Missouri, said Gary Smith, a retired Raytown police officer who is president of the Missouri Police Canine Association.

Copyright 2007 Joplin Globe

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