DALLAS, Georgia -- A Paulding County Sheriff's deputy unknowingly shot and killed a K-9 last week during a chaotic foot pursuit.
Deputies responded to a domestic dispute at 14 Trotters Way in the Saddlebrook Farms subdivision around 12:03 a.m. to discover that the suspect had left the scene prior to their arrival, according to a news release.
A man matching the suspect's description was in a silver vehicle still inside the neighborhood. When they initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle, the suspect exited the car and fled the deputies..
Cpl. Brandon Kilgore arrived on scene and observed the suspect running in the area of Brooks Road and Trotters Way. Kilgore quickly stopped his patrol vehicle and gave chase on foot.
"Handlers are trained on specific rules regarding the deployment of their K-9 partners," a statement from the Paulding County Sheriff's Office reads. "At the time Corporal Kilgore arrived, the departmental criteria to deploy the dog had not been met, so he did not release K-9 Verro."
Verro was able to squeeze through the partially open kennel door that separates his vehicle kennel from the drivers' compartment which allowed him to crawl into the front of the SUV. Verro was able to inch his way out of the vehicle's open window in an attempt to assist his handler.
No deputies were aware Verro was out of his vehicle. As the dog could not differentiate between deputy and suspect, he attempted to apprehended a deputy at the scene by grabbing the back of his leg and followed his training by biting and holding until he was commanded to release.
The deputy was not aware that the dog was actually a law enforcement canine. Unable to remove the dog from his leg, the deputy followed his training, drew his service weapon and shot and killed Verro.
A short time later, deputies realized that the wounded animal was a K-9. Unfortunately, it was too late for Verro and he was pronounced dead at the scene. A short time later the male suspect was taken into custody by other deputies in the area.
The Deputy who was bitten has some injuries as a result of the apprehension but is expected to fully recover..
Officials said that the devastating incident has shaken the department to its core.
“Being a former K-9 handler, I know how special the bond is between a handler and his dog," Sheriff Gary Gulledge said in a statement. "The emotional grief everyone is going through, including the deputy who was bitten, has been overwhelming. Please keep Corporal Kilgore, his family, the K-9 Unit, our injured Deputy, and the Sheriff’s Office in your prayers as we all go through this difficult time.”