Heflin police dog recovering from on-duty attack - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Heflin police dog recovering from on-duty attack

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CLEBURNE COUNTY, Ala. - The Heflin Police Department's canine officer is recovering from injuries suffered during a warrant round up.

Addi required 17 staples in her front right leg to seal a wound from a biting by a pair of pit bulls.  Police said a homeowner released the dogs to attack officers, but they headed straight for Addi

The dutch shepherd is about seven years old and trained to sniff narcotics, search for missing persons, and use her teeth if necessary to stop a suspect.

Law enforcement officers from the Heflin, Oxford, and Ranburne Police Departments, Cleburne and Clay County deputies, and the area's pardon and parole board had a warrant round up Friday to find about 40 wanted suspects.  They went to West 4th Avenue in Fruithurst to arrest Cody Bagby on a burglary charge.

"We had dealt with the subject in the past and he was a runner and canine addi was there to assist," Heflin police chief A.J. Benefield said.

"She's an apprehension dog so if he ran, she was there as well."

Bagby was not home at the time.  Officers arrested him the next day during a traffic stop.  Benefield said a woman who was not wanted in the round-up was there with her two pit bulls.

"She came and saw the officers at the front. The dogs were lunging at the front door and one of the officers that was there on the scene at the front put his leg against the front door where they couldn't get out and get them," Benefield said.

"She took the dogs, went to the back, knowing that there was officers back there, and just opened the door and released them, so we believe she knew and was sending the animals to attack the officers."

The pit bulls went straight for Addi. Police rushed in to kick the pit bulls off the canine officer.

Addi's handler, Sergeant Kevin Turley, will submit warrants for the woman's arrest Wednesday.  The expected charges are for injuring a police animal, and failing to vaccinate her dogs for rabies.

Heflin police will also seek restitution for Addi's veterinary bills, which are currently at about $300.

Turley said he does not blame the pit bulls for the attack. He said it is their owner's fault and that the dogs did what they were taught to do.

Police said the woman was out of jail on bond for a pending drug case, and may have a connection to Bagby's alleged burglaries.

Turley said Addi was lethargic for a few days due to medication, but by Tuesday afternoon she acted as if the attack never happened.  He said she is ready to get back to work, and expects her to return to duty Thursday.

Addi belongs to Turley and is his partner and pet, although he said she is more like his fifth child than just a dog.  The city does not own Addi, but tries to help with the cost of food and some care.

One of the Heflin Police Department's fundraisers is the sale of K-9 unit t-shirts with the phrase "Keep Calm and Support K9 Addi" on the back.  The black t-shirts are $20, and people can contact Kevin Turley at 256-463-2291 to order and help cover Addi's cost.

Officers said the dog is a big asset to the department both in helping with searches and also with community relations.  Addi makes visits to every school in Cleburne County, and Turley said she helps get children involved and interested in ways that normal officers can't.

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