K-9 hurt in line of duty still tracks down suspect, then stranger pays for vet bills

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LONGMONT, Colo -- A four-legged hero hurt in the line of duty is on the road to recovery.

Rudi is a 3-year-old K-9 assigned to the Longmont Police Department. His specialty is sniffing out illegal narcotics, finding evidence and tracking people.

“They can smell at a very high degree of accuracy and track that person pretty much almost footstep to footstep,” said Rudi’s handler, officer Billy Sawyer.

On March 25, Rudi and Sawyer were tasked with finding a suspect who ran from police.

The suspect went through backyards, where Rudi had to jump over a fence. He tracked his scent and led police to the suspect’s front door, where he surrendered.

“He gives it 120 percent every single day,” Sawyer said. “So to see him get injured, it’s not fun.”

Rudi caught his stomach on the chain link fence. It tore through one side, exposing his intestines.

“We didn’t see any injuries at the time,” Sawyer said. “He didn’t yelp. He didn’t cry. He didn’t do anything. He actually just continued to try to work.”

It wasn’t until Rudi was admitted to the vet for surgery that he finally slowed down.

“They sewed him up and put him on bed rest for a little over a week,” Sawyer said.

While Rudi was resting, Sawyer turned to Facebook asking for prayers for a speedy recovery.

“Almost immediately, some lady contacted me,” he said.

They were in store for a miracle.

“She said she would like to contribute to his vet bills,” he said.

Rudi’s bill pushed past $4,000 so Sawyer said he tried to talk the stranger out of it.

“I said you’re not the first and you won’t be the last,” Kristen Miller said.

Miller lives in Falcon, where she has dedicated her retirement to helping save the lives of police dogs.

“Dogs don’t have a voice and when I learned that there are ways to protect a dog that can’t ask for anything but a hug and a kiss, I knew that I had to do something,” she said.

Miller said when she was a 7 years old she was kidnapped while playing on her street.

“I was in the car and got driven out to the desert in Arizona. Left in a canal ditch and tied to a chair,” she said.

She spent six hours alone until a K-9 tracked her down.

“I wouldn’t be here without that incident. That dog saved my life,” she said.

She now buys bulletproof vests and first-aid kids for working K-9s all over the country to keep them working and safe.

She said it’s a small price to pay for four-legged heroes like Rudi.

“When you see that it’s a slap back to reality that there’s a lot of good people out there. A lot of good people,” Sawyer said.

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