The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

June 28, 2013

‘I loved him’: Officer says only option was to shoot canine partner

By Lauren Estes
CNHI News Service

— A K-9 police officer in Hanceville, Ala. said he had no other option than to shoot his canine companion after the dog attacked him  Monday afternoon.

Officer Anthony Childress was in a park in Hanceville training Ichi Bon, a Belgian Malinois, when the dog attacked him. Childress was hospitalized and underwent surgery after he shot and killed the canine.

“I do not think he thought he was biting me, I think he was just going through emotions, training and using his instincts, it was a tragic accident,” Childress said. “I loved him. He was my partner and my best friend. I hate that’s what I had to do, but I did have to. It bothers me that there are so many naysayers about the accident, who do not know either of our personalities. I’m the one who lost my best friend and partner.”

A taser was not an option for Childress, as he does not carry one.

“I don’t have a taser. Some officers do have them, but not everyone,” Childress said. “The department doesn’t have the money to purchase those for everyone.”

Training for the dog could take place five days a week. Childress said and he could be found with Ichi Bon at C.W. Day Park any given day.

“We would go into an enclosed baseball field with high fences away from everyone else,” Childress said. “We were out there just about everyday, and 4-5 times a day training 15-20 minutes each time. You train the dog for small increments and then you let him rest. Anything from sniffing narcotics to keep him sharp, obedience drills, and then letting him be a dog by throwing a stick. After training, we always follow with something fun.”

Childress said he had a toy that he often plays with as part of the reward following the training.

“I incorporate discipline by throwing the ball and the stick, letting him bring it back, making him wait and doing it again so we can end on a happy note,” Childress said. “He had already finished the drug and obedience training. I had dropped the toy when we were playing and it fell away from me and I guess he didn’t see where it went and thought I put it in my pocket where my wallet was. When he bit my leg where the wallet was, the tendon on the back of my leg buckled and I fell away from the toy and that’s when he went into attack mode and it was just a bad sequence of events.”

After biting his leg and causing him to fall, Childress said the dog circled around him and attacked his head.

“I trusted my dog with my life all the way up until the end,” Childress said. “I wish it didn’t happen, but it did and I’m heartbroken over it. He was a working dog and I knew what I was getting into when I took the position and the chance of him biting me, just like we know what we’re getting into as policemen. I’m not upset that I got hurt, I knew it could happen. I’m just upset that I had to put down my best friend and partner.”

Childress said when traveling through crowds, Ichi Bon would have a muzzle on because he sees the world differently than humans.

“He was a working dog and sometimes if someone hugged me or shook my hand, he would interpret it the wrong way,” Childress said. “I had a friend of mine pat me on the back and he was barking from the car and I had to console him and tell him I was okay. The muzzle was for everyone’s safety.”

Ichi Bon was sent to be tested for rabies. Childress confirmed the dog was up to date on his shots and medications.

Story provided by The Cullman Times.