Police dog Rex ‘well rewarded and praised’ for capturing fleeing suspect

A fleeing suspect allegedly attempted to choke K9 Rex during an apprehension last week and was charged with assault, authorities said. (Submitted photo/Smyrna Police)

SMYRNA — Doing his duty, K9 Rex earned an extra dog biscuit for his police work last week.

According to Smyrna Police, the canine crime fighter tussled with a fleeing suspect who attempted to choke and hit him.

The 3 1/2-year-old German Shepherd subdued the man within 30 to 45 seconds, police said.

“He has been well rewarded and praised for a job well done,” said spokesman Cpl. Brian Donner.

While the dog was unhurt, Brandon Pierce, 29, of Smyrna was transported to the hospital, treated for injuries and released.

Cpl. Donner described Rex as “unfazed” by the alleged use of force he faced during the fray.

“Our K9s are routinely met with similar encounters during their initial and on-going update training,” Cpl. Donner said. “This was not the first time in Rex’s mind and memory that he had been met by an aggressive and violent suspect due to this training.”

Within two minutes of Rex exiting an arriving police vehicle, the suspect was located behind a building, subdued and handcuffed, authorities said.

Upon release from medical care, Mr. Pierce was charged with second-degree assault on a law enforcement K9, second-degree attempted assault on a law enforcement officer, criminal mischief over $1,000 for allegedly damaging a vehicle during a street fight, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.

Though assaults on K9s are rare, “they are unfortunately becoming more commonplace as violence against police in general has increased across the country,” Cpl. Donner said.

Officers take violence against their dogs personally since “they all become part of the police department culture and they grow to be friends and partners to their handler’s shift mates as well,” Cpl. Donner said.

Regarding the K9s’ bond with their police officer partners who guide them, Cpl. Donner said, “They are best friends/protectors and partners to their handlers.”

Time spent together forges an unbreakable alliance between man and animal.

“In any given week, it is likely that our K9 handlers spend more time with their 4-legged partners than they do with any member of their human family,” Cpl. Donner said.

“Therefore we take an assault on one of them as seriously as we do an assault on a human officer.”

Rex and fellow K9 Ronin joined Smyrna Police in spring 2015 and completed initial training through the Delaware State Police in the late summer.

The dogs stay busy, responding to complaints within Smyrna and assisting other area police departments when called. The versatile K9s rarely work a shift with no action.

“They can track human suspects, search buildings, apprehend fleeing criminals, control crowds and are trained to find narcotics,” Cpl. Donner said.

The night wasn’t over for Rex after the suspect’s apprehension. Roughly two hours later, he and his handler found suspected drugs hidden inside a vehicle while assisting the Delaware State Police.

“That is how versatile and ready to work these dogs are,” Cpl. Donner said.

Before those two calls, Rex had completed a suspicious vehicle check for drugs on the south side of Smyrna.

Within a few minutes, Rex and his handler arrived at the building scene to find a suspect who had fled on East Street.

“They are ready to be deployed/called just as quickly as their human officer counterparts,” Cpl. Donner said.

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