Police dog that escaped in West Valley attacked man while loose

Mar 8, 2023, 11:33 AM | Updated: Mar 9, 2023, 8:30 am
K-9 Rico (Avondale Police Department Photo)...
K-9 Rico (Avondale Police Department Photo)
(Avondale Police Department Photo)

PHOENIX — The Avondale police dog that got loose from his handler’s home in Goodyear this week bloodied a man in a vicious attack before it was captured, authorities said.

According to a Maricopa County Animal Care and Control report, the victim needed treatment for serious bite wounds after his frightening encounter with K-9 Rico late Sunday.

The 90-pound Belgian Malinois was placed on nonduty status and will undergo a full assessment to determine if he is fit to return to service, the Avondale Police Department told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Wednesday.

The victim was cleaning out a camper in his driveway near Lower Buckeye Parkway and Sarival Avenue after 10 p.m. Sunday when he heard a dog running toward him, according to the animal control incident report.

He retreated into his garage before the animal lunged at him.

The man was bitten repeatedly while fighting off the dog. The attack continued until the victim’s wife hit Rico with a broom handle, prompting the K-9 to run off.

The man received treatment at an urgent care facility for injuries that included eight deep puncture wounds on his right arm, a bite wound down to the bone on a finger and 10 puncture wounds and two large lacerations on his left arm, according to the report. The man said he was unable to feel the fingers on his right hand after the attack.

Rico is up to date on his rabies vaccine and licensing, the county said.

On Monday morning, Avondale police issued an alert about Rico going missing from his handler’s home. The alert warned against approaching the animal, but it didn’t mention the previous night’s attack.

The dog was recovered before 9 a.m. about 2 miles from where he escaped, police said.

The Avondale officer who handles Rico lives in Goodyear. He told county animal control investigators the K-9 was let out into the backyard and got out through a side gate that wasn’t properly closed. The handler’s wife noticed the dog was missing around 10 p.m. The handler said nothing like this has happened in his 20-plus years as K-9 officer.

Avondale police said Wednesday an internal investigation was underway to determine if any policy violations had occurred.

The Goodyear Police Department, which participated in the search for Rico, is conducting the investigating into the attack incident.

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Police dog that escaped in West Valley attacked man while loose