WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - On Sunday night robbery suspect Antonio Douglas attempted to escape by choking one of Wilmington's finest, a canine officer named Deon.
Canine officers undergo tremendous training to become crime stoppers, but many times their jobs involve risky situations.
"He always pays attention to what I'm doing, it's an incredible backup," said Officer Stafford Brister of his 5-year-old K-9 partner Igor. "If we have a situation where it poses a significant threat to officers to try to apprehend the suspect, we'll use the dog."
Most canine officers are truly on the front lines of crime.
"He doesn't know the different between a shoplifter and a murder suspect," said Brister. "All he knows is we've commanded him to do a job and he will gladly and lovingly do it for me."
But even Igor has been hurt more than once by a suspect.
"[Suspects] will at times try to hurt the dogs," said Brister. "Someone tried to drown [one of my old dogs], we've had our dogs kicked, punched, kicked in the ribs, in the head in the face. They grab their muzzles trying to pull them off."
When it really counts, canine officers are trained to take a bullet for an officer if necessary.
Nationally several dogs have been killed in the line of duty. It's a felony to assault a law enforcement animal.
This weekend, lumped into the charges Antonio Douglas will face, is assault of a canine officer. Officer Deon is back at work and doing is fine.