Thursday, January 20, 2011
Monty is a 5-year-old canine officer who took a bullet in the muzzle as he and his handler took part in a shootout in San Diego’s Skyline neighborhood last October.
SAN DIEGO Monty is a 5-year-old canine officer who took a bullet in the muzzle as he and his handler took part in a shootout in San Diego’s Skyline neighborhood last October. Recovery took a couple of months. But Monty’s handler, a garrulous cop named Mike McLeod, reassured us today that Monty is still strong and aggressive and he’s back to tracking suspects.
“You want to make sure they’re still going to engage a suspect and that they’re going to work through gunfire,” said McLeod after he took Monty through some paces at the SDPD canine facility. “We did that with some simulation out here and firing some blanks and… no problem.”
The October shootout happened after McLeod and fellow officers entered the apartment of an armed fugitive who opened fire. That night Officer Chistopher Wilson was shot and killed, Monty was injured and two suspects lay dead – police say from self-inflicted wounds.
McLeod and Monty posed for TV news cameras as McLeod told his story. He said the gunfire pinned him and his injured dog in one of the rooms of the second-floor apartment for 16 minutes before he was able to carry Monty down a ladder set up by some other cops. The shot to the muzzle caused Monty to lose some teeth. But McLeod said his sense of smell remained strong even though the bullet entered the dog’s sinus cavity.
Monty is a 109-pound Belgian Malinois, a dog that looks like a German Shepherd to the uninitiated. He looked like a happy pet as McLeod played with him, though he barked fiercely at a handful of TV reporters who approached the squad car where Monty was later confined.
Asked what he thought of the late Officer Wilson, McLeod said he’d miss his experience and he’d miss his cover.
“To have your dog shot and have an officer shot and killed, especially somebody that I knew,” he said, “it was one of those traumatic things you go through in life but in this line of work it's not unexpected, unfortunately.”
The SDPD has 27 officers who handle police dogs, and McLeod said Monty is the 8th dog he’s worked with. Though Monty’s back on the job, he’s expected to retire soon. Most police dogs are done by the age of 9.