PORTAGE — A Portage police K-9 will be removed from service after it attacked another dog Saturday during Bacon Fest.
The dog, Bandit, later died of his injuries.
Police Chief Troy Williams said K-9 Officer Flora Ryan and her partner, Nyx, a Belgian Malinois, were assisting with the department's K-9 unit booth at the festival at Founders Square Park.
They were taking a break in a grassy area on the west side of the Portage Fire Department, 6300 Central Ave. Ryan was lying in the grass while Nyx was on a leash next to her.
As they were resting, Mile and Kerry Mavrovic, of Portage, and their Yorkshire terrier, Bandit, were leaving the festival and walking south on the sidewalk just west of the fire station and Ryan's location. Ryan and Nyx were about 40 to 50 feet from the Mavrovics and Bandit.
Williams said Ryan heard Bandit bark and Nyx ran toward the couple and dog.
Ryan did not have as good a grip on Nyx's leash as she should, Williams said, allowing Nyx to get away from her.
Nyx bit down on Bandit as Ryan ran over and got Nyx to release her hold.
Bandit was bleeding from an ear, but there were no other obvious signs of injury at that time, Williams said, adding the Mavrovics took him to the Hobart Animal Clinic, where it was determined that he suffered severe internal injuries.
The Mavrovics took Bandit to Purdue’s Veterinary Hospital in West Lafayette for further evaluation, where he died from his injuries.
"Our family is in disbelief. We understand that this was a freak accident, but this was unprovoked by us and our dog. Officer Ryan says, 'She heard Bandit bark.' She may have heard a dog bark, but it did not come from Bandit," Kerry Mavrovic said, adding this has been extremely difficult for her family.
"Bandit was the sweetest, funniest, most loving little guy. Everyone who knew him loved him. I just can't believe this is real," she said. "We appreciate Chief Williams and the Portage police taking responsibility and reaching out to us during this difficult loss."
"While this is an unfortunate tragedy, it does not relieve of us of our responsibility to the public to ensure the safety of all. We are fully responsible for this and my deepest apologies and sympathies go out to the Mavrovic family," said Williams, adding the city will pay the Mavrovics' veterinary expenses.
"I have spoken with Officer Ryan and she is also saddened that this happened and expressed deep remorse. Due to the circumstances, I have made the decision that K-9 Nyx will no longer be utilized as a Portage police K-9," he said. "Though, this was a terrible accident, it does not lessen the pain and trauma experienced by the Mavrovics that should have never occurred."