IRVINE (CBSLA/AP) — A Santa Ana police dog is recovering from dental surgery Tuesday after losing nearly all his teeth while taking down a parolee who led officers on a wild pursuit.
Puskas, the Santa Ana police K-9 lost all his upper and lower teeth – except for his canine teeth – in a scuffle with the suspect during the chase Monday night , according to authorities.
The K-9 was in surgery at VCA Yorba Regional Animal Hospital for several hours Tuesday, police said. The police dog’s teeth had reportedly broken down to his gum line and subsequently needed to be removed.
CBS2 News captured the moment the K-9 stepped out of the animal hospital wearing a purple heart tag to commend his valor.
“He comes home with me. He’s part of my family,” said his handler Santa Ana Police Officer Luis Galeana Tuesday. “I spend more time with him than I do with my own family,” Galeana continued.
Puskas is expected to be back on the job with Galeana when he has fully recovered, in about a month. Police said he only needs his back teeth to be an effective K-9.
Puskas is credited with tackling suspect Antonio Padilla Jr. at the end of a chase that involved a woman being carjacked and left several vehicles damaged.
Police say Padilla was suspected of almost hitting a Garden Grove policewoman with his truck during a traffic stop last week. He also was wanted for a parole violation.
Police spotted his pickup Monday. During a chase, the driver hit several cars then left the battered truck, pulled a woman from her SUV and stole it.
The woman’s brother tried to drag the carjacker out but backed off when the lurching car nearly pinned him against the abandoned truck.
The car crashed and the driver tried to run but was taken down by the police dog.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)