It seems there will be no summer off for Czar, the Norwalk, Connecticut police dog stabbed through the tongue Saturday while defending his handler, Officer Frank Reda. Czar helped subdue an attacker who charged at Reda while holding two knives
Sgt. Andre Velez, who is in contact with Reda, had expressed concern Monday that the dog might have a cracked tooth. He thought the tooth might have to be removed as an abscess would result. Police were having difficulty tracking down a veterinary dentist, but Tuesday morning word came that the tooth is fine.
Reda had taken the dog out for ice cream, Velez said. The Belgian Malinois has stitches on his tongue and cuts on his gums. Velez said both Reda and Czar are tough, after getting a text from Reda that read: “No fracture of tooth, tough, ready to work, no summer off for him.”
Police say Jose “Danny” Salamayor-Roma, 22, and three other men were wielding steak knives Saturday afternoon. When Salamayor-Roma charged at Reda, Czar grabbed him in the stomach. When Salamayor-Roma cut the dog around the mouth, Czar let go and grabbed him in the groin and did not let go, despite being kicked and punched.
Salamyor-Roma was charged with animal cruelty for injuring Czar, in addition to breach of peace, interfering with an officer, conspiracy, criminal attempt, assault and carrying a dangerous weapon. He is being held on $250,000 bond.
Chief Harry Rilling said in an email Tuesday afternoon that the charge of animal cruelty, the highest allowed under Connecticut law, is inadequate. “Since the Police Service Dog (PSD) is acting as ‘an agent of the department’ and under the direction of a police officer, the charges should be more serious than cruelty to animals,” he said. “The dog is highly trained and only acts under the most extreme circumstances. PSDs are trained and deployed to protect police officers and other members of the public. Therefore, attacking them should be a felony.”
An East Norwalk Connecticut hairdresser had the same reaction when she heard about Czar’s injuries.
“When an animal is involved they should tack on another 10 years for hurting it,” said Virginia Kunkel, adding that the dog wasn’t only protecting a police officer it was getting a dangerous criminal off the street.
“Dogs run faster than humans and can sometimes apprehend suspects that would get away,“ she said, adding, “I’m not saying it’s better than a human’s life, but if a criminal is going to attack a police dog and hurt it they should have repercussions over it. It would be a crime if they hurt a police officer, they would get in trouble.”