DEKALB, Ga. — An injured DeKalb County police dog hailed as a hero is recuperating at home after spending less than a week in the hospital.
Twan, a 6-year-old Belgian Malawa who officials said is a sworn officer, was shot in the face last week while pursuing two robbery suspects.
Twan's boss said the dog probably saved his handler, Sgt. Bob Frank, from injury.
"If that dog wasn't there, [the suspect] would have shot Twan's handler," said Lt. AJ Andrzejewski, commander of the canine unit.
Twan originally was treated at the North DeKalb Veterinary Clinic and later was transferred to Georgia Veterinary Specialists where he underwent two hours of surgery to remove 10 bullet fragments from his nose and stomach, Andrzejewski said.
Twan still has a fragment in his neck and a few smaller ones in his nose that won't be removed, Frank said.
While Twan was in surgery and recovery, Frank never left his side for 36 hours. "Those dogs are like their kids," said Andrzejewski. "His wife had to bring him sleep wear."
Twan lives with Frank. "I take care of him 24 hours a day," Frank said. "He goes where I go."
Twan has been on the force 3 1/2 years. He has helped take 46 people into custody and aided in $1.6 million in drug apprehensions, said Mekka Parish, DeKalb police spokeswoman.
Officials don't know if Twan will be able to return to duty. He will be put through a number of tests in the upcoming weeks and is scheduled for re-evaluation in October. If he cannot return to service, he likely will become his handler's pet.
Twan was shot while pursuing two suspects in the robbery of a Citgo convenience store on Moreland Avenue at 1-285. The suspects fled into some woods. Officers and the police dog were searching in that area when one of the suspects opened fire.
Police have one suspect in custody and are still looking for a second suspect, said Marcus Hodge, a DeKalb police spokesman.
Because Twan is a sworn officer, an assault against him carries the same charge as an assault against a human officer. The shooter will be changed with aggravated assault against a police officer in addition to four counts of armed robbery, Parish said.
There are seven dogs in Twan's unit, five that help with arrests and drug seizures and two locator dogs. No dog in the unit had ever been shot. Most injuries are caused by stepping on glass and nails, Andrzejewski said.