K9 officer injured in the line of duty returns to work

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CEDAR CITY - After a 5-month recovery, The Cedar City police Department welcomed back one of its four-legged officers.

K9 Pajko was paralyzed on April 25 during the takedown of a suspect. He spent close to a week in a Las Vegas specialty clinic. But to look at him today, you could hardly tell.

“They still have that drive,” said Pajko’s partner, Officer Jason Thomas. “Pajko still has that high drive. In his mind he still won that scenario.”

Thomas said it was as stressful time, wondering if and when Pajko would return. Veterinarians told him there was a chance he would never be the same.

“The type of injury he had, it wasn’t completely known whether he would return to work,” Thomas said. “He has a demanding job, that his agility is needed. We didn’t know if his mindset would be to where he would want to come back to work.”

But veterinarians said his recovery went better than they could have predicted. Thomas said there are some minor residual effects, but nothing that would prohibit several more years of police service.

“Most of the training that we’re doing to get him back to speed is just maintenance, cleaning him up,” Thomas said. “He’s a very high driven dog, which takes a lot of training, a lot of maintenance to get him back to the level where he was.”

Community donations primarily paid for Pajko’s surgery, the group Friends of Iron County K9s did much of the fundraising. Thomas said that is most touching, and he said it shows the public appreciates the work the police K9s do.

“We took a gamble on him, for what he’s done for the community and for our department up to that point,” Thomas said. “So, it means a lot to me personally. It’s been overwhelming the support that people have for these police dogs. These dogs do things that none of us can do. People respect that.”

They’ve started him out slow, just doing narcotic work. Once they’ve been able to work back to his previous level, he’ll start participating in more extreme cases.