GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) — Green Bay’s Police Chief says the actions of K9 Pyro Sunday night likely prevented an officer-involved shooting.
Pyro was stabbed multiple times by a suspect in a weapons complaint on Western Avenue. Pryo has underwent two surgeries and is in critical but stable condition at Fox Valley Animal Referral Center in Appleton.
“We have very high hopes that he’s going to survive this incident,” Chief Andrew Smith said Monday afternoon. “Much higher than our hopes were this morning when it looked like he had a less than 50 percent chance of survival.”
The man who stabbed Pyro is identified as Sai Vang. Chief Smith says his department is recommending several charges to the district attorney’s office, including Recklessly Endangering Safety and Obstructing an Officer.
Pyro required emergency surgery Sunday night to repair “multiple soft tissue injuries to his neck and his esophagus.”
Pyro received blood and plasma transfusions and a temporary tracheostomy due to a blood clot that was preventing him from breathing. Doctors make a hole in the windpipe and insert a tube to allow the animal to breathe.
Pyro was in recovery Monday morning when he suffered complications of a twisted stomach and was taken for a second surgery.
Pyro is recovery in the Intensive Care Unit and getting 24-hour specialty care.
Chief Smith says no cost would be too high to save Pyro’s life.
“You gotta do whatever it takes to save that dog’s life because that dog is the hero of the day here in Green Bay,” Chief Smith said.
Green Bay Police said they responded to a call around 8:19 p.m. Sunday for a man with a gun on the 1300-block of Western Avenue.
Smith tells Action 2 News that the suspect had threatened to shoot family members and law enforcement. The department responded with its Bearcat vehicle.
Smith says the suspect refused orders to comply with officers and submit to a lawful arrest. The officers deployed Pyro, who is trained to jump on the suspect and knock him down in these situations.
“Unfortunately, unbeknownst to the officers, this individual was armed with a knife. Mr. Vang used that knife to slash at and stab several times in the throat of Pyro,” Chief Smith says.
Officers used a taser on Vang and took him into custody. Smith says Vang was not hurt.
“We won’t know right now what his [Vang’s] motivation was, but we can certainly say the actions of this dog very likely prevented an officer-involved shooting from occurring here in the city of Green Bay,” Smith says.
Officers loaded the injured Pyro into the Bearcat and drove him to Bay East Animal Hospital prior to his transfer to Fox Valley Animal Referral Center. K9 officers carry a medical kit and officers used a clotting agent in that kit and applied it to Pyro’s neck during transport. Doctors said that saved Pyro’s life.
“Very scrappy. He’s very, very tough. I’m told to get him under it took several doses of fentanyl. He just didn’t want to get knocked out so they could perform the surgery. So he is one tough, scrappy dog,” Smith says.
Pyro’s handler, Scott Salzman, has been staying with the Belgian Malinois. The dog has been with the department for one year.
“He still has a long way to go as far as recovery. I would say it’s hour-by-hour, day-by day for awhile here. Because of the severity of the wounds. Because of the scar tissue that’s going to form in his esophagus may cause some problems and some complications with him eating, so we’re concerned about that,” Chief Smith says.
Pyro is two-and-a-half years old. He is a narcotics and tracking dog.
Chief Smith says the department is grateful for the outpouring of support from the community. Many of those messages are coming in on social media.
The Brown County Sheriff’s Office posted a message of support on Facebook: “Thoughts and prayers to K9 Pyro along with his family and the GBPD. Hoping for a speedy recovery for this hero!!”
“Please send your thoughts and prayers to Green Bay Police Department K-9 Officer Pyro and his handler. K9 Pyro was stabbed by a suspect during a disturbance this evening and is currently receiving treatment,” reads a post on the Green Bay Fraternal Order of Police Facebook page.
Chief Smith says the bills for Pyro’s surgeries are about $25,000. That number is expected to grow.
The department has received many calls from people asking how they can help Pyro. Green Bay Police say people can drop off donations at the department or send a check payable to the Green Bay Police Department. Include “K9 Donation” in the memo line.