K-9 Blade shot during traffic stop must retire, seeks donations

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Lake County sheriff’s police dog Blade must retire after being shot in the jaw during a traffic stop in Gary, Ind. more than a week ago.

About 3 p.m. on Jan. 18, the sheriff’s officer and K-9 Blade stopped a car in the 300 block of 42nd Avenue in Gary, Ind. then followed the driver, 18-year-old Marquis Thomas, down an alley after he ran out of the car, the sheriff’s office said.

Thomas fired shots at the officer and struck Blade, according to police. The officer returned fire and fatally wounded Thomas.

The 6-year-old Dutch Shepherd was wounded by a bullet that grazed his upper lip and shattered his upper molars, lower jaw and teeth along with shrapnel embedded into his neck and throat, the sheriff’s office said. Blade was hospitalized for several days and underwent two surgeries to repair the damage. The surgeries were successful and Blade was resting at home with his handler and family.

However, the permanent damage was so extensive that Blade cannot continue working for the Lake County sheriff’s department, deputies said. Blade’s handler was “devastated” but knows it is no longer safe for Blade to keep working.

The sheriff’s department was paying for Blade’s medical expenses, but when he officially retires, the Lake County K-9 Association will take over the responsibility. Blade might need another surgery to fix his jaw and implant artificial teeth.

Donations made to Blade’s Go Fund Me page will help the K-9 Association fund Blade’s medical care for the rest of his life and go towards purchasing a new police dog for the sheriff’s department, deputies said. The cost of a fully trained K-9 partner is between $10,000 and $15,000. On Friday morning, more than $12,000 of the page’s $20,000 goal was raised.

Any additional funds will go toward providing equipment and veterinarian costs for the Lake County K-9 program.