A Murray County Sheriff's Office deputy is recovering after one of the department's drug dogs bit him in the face on Monday.
Maj. Greg Fowler said Brett Morrison sat down with the Malinois after several deputies and probation and parole officers had finished serving a large number of warrants. The dog routinely goes with officers during such events, Fowler said.
Fowler said Morrison wanted to take his picture with the dog, so he knelt down with a camera phone and wrapped his arm around the dog's neck.
"It's an act of aggression to them whenever you do that," Fowler said. "The canine just responded by what was presented to him based on his training."
That response was to bite the lower part of Morrison's face, ripping it up so badly he had to be taken to Hamilton Medical Center and eventually received several stitches, Fowler said. He said the dog's handler didn't have time to react before the dog attacked, but the dog quickly backed off once the handler gave a command to stop. Fowler said the dog is current on all of its shots and hadn't bitten anyone before.
Fowler said the sheriff's office's animal control division is completing a report on what happened. A message left on Tuesday for animal control director Diane Franklin wasn't immediately returned.
No one has been disciplined, and Fowler said officials are reviewing what happened and waiting to talk with Morrison, who was off duty recovering on Tuesday. Efforts to reach Morrison were unsuccessful.
Calling the situation "an unfortunate accident," Fowler said Morrison is expected to be OK but is on pain medication.
"They had to do quite a bit of stitching in the lip area where (it had been opened up) in a pretty good gash," he said. "We're praying for the deputy and everything to be fine with him. He's recuperating well, and we're sorry for the incident, but you train animals, you train them to do certain things, and you don't deviate from the training."
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