Hero police dog treated at Penn Vet's Matthew J. Ryan Hospital

Police dog Diablo, treated at Penn's vet hospital

A police dog shot twice in the line of duty underwent life-saving surgery at the Matthew J. Ryan Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, where he is recovering from wounds to his left hind leg and left shoulder.

Diablo, a Belgian Malinois, is a rookie member of Delaware's New Castle County Police force, having completed his canine patrol and narcotics training in August. He was shot on the morning of Nov. 11 in Wilmington after officers responded to a report of a 34-year-old man who allegedly threatened to kill his ex-girlfriend at an apartment complex.

According to news reports, Diablo was shot after the suspect hid in nearby woods. Diablo was sent into the thick brush where he found the suspect and bit him several times. Police said bullets ripped through Diablo's left shoulder and shattered his left tibia. The suspect also shot at the officers, who returned fire. No officers were injured.

Despite his serious wounds, Diablo hung on to the suspect, releasing his grip only when his handler gave the command. After the altercation, Diablo collapsed and was rushed, with a police escort, to Ryan Hospital at Penn. Surgeons performed a bone graft, blood transfusion and inserted a metal plate into Diablo's leg. The bullets did not penetrate any vital organs.

"On behalf of each and every officer from the New Castle County Police Department, we would like to thank those who offered the many thoughts and prayers for Diablo received through phone calls, emails, text messages and media contacts," said Sr. Corporal Trinidad Navarro. “We would also like to offer our heartfelt gratitude to the physicians at the University of Pennsylvania for saving the life of a true hero."

Diablo's chances of recovery appear good, although it is yet unclear whether he will be able to return to police duty.

Originally published on November 12, 2009