By David Palmer and Lauren Estes
The Cullman Times
Hanceville’s K-9 police officer was forced to shoot his canine companion Monday afternoon after the dog attacked him in the head.
Officer Anthony Childress was training with the dog, Ichi Bon — a Belgian Malinois — at C.W. Day Park in Hanceville when he was attacked. The officer was hospitalized after he shot and killed the dog.
The 6-year-old dog first bit into the officer’s leg and turned loose after Childress fell to the ground. The dog attacked a second time, biting into the officer’s head, causing lacerations that later required surgery.
“Officer Childress thinks Ichi Bon mistook a wallet in his front pocket for a reward toy he used in training,” Hanceville Police Chief Bob Long said. “He loved that dog and he’s very upset about what happened.”
Once Childress freed himself from the dog’s bite to the head, he feared it was preparing to attack again. At that time he shot the dog.
The dog had been with the department for about a year and was used in drug investigations. Hanceville Mayor Kenneth Nail said the dog was acquired from a reputable, certified trainer.
“The dog was actually dual trained for drugs and biting. The department used it for drug investigations, and that had been successful,” Nail said. “I wonder sometimes if we put too much on these dogs, when they are dual trained. With all the concerns about the budget and the risks involved, we’re not going to continue the K-9 officer program.”
Childress took Ichi Bon to an enclosed area of the park for training around 3:45 p.m. Monday when the attack occurred.
“The dog latched on to him and drug the officer to the ground. The dog circled around him and bit him on the head. This is tragic. I know the officer didn’t want to shoot the dog. He is really upset about having to put him down, there is a special bond between a canine officer and his dog. We agree with his decision and thank the good Lord that the situation wasn’t worse,” Nail said. “The dog wasn’t completely dead after the gunshot and was suffering so the officer went ahead and put him down.”
The officer was taken to the hospital and was out of surgery just after 8 p.m. Monday night. Nail said the surgery went well and the officer will be sporting a scar on his head.
“We had not used the canine as an attack dog, so we really don’t know what happened,” Nail said. “We’ve had the dog for over a year and bought him from a trainer that sells to DEA and other agencies. The dog was licensed, had its shots and was certified.”