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San Diego police dog nearly killed by knife-wielding suspect.

March 20, 2009 |  6:32 pm

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Earp, a veteran San Diego police dog, is back at home just hours after emergency surgery that saved his life after he was stabbed by a murder suspect, police said Friday.

The suspect stabbed the 8-year-old German shepherd in the neck after police went to the man's home to answer a plea for help by the man's wife.

After stabbing Earp, the man lunged at police and was shot dead, police said. His wife was found dead in the home of stab wounds.

Earp was rushed to a nearby veterinary clinic, bleeding profusely.

Veterinarian Rob Tugend said Earp was near death when he arrived at the clinic in the back of a police car with its lights flashing and siren blaring.

"He was pretty far gone, a couple of more minutes and we'd have lost him," said Tugend, the police department's veterinarian.

Tugend said that transfusions provided blood and fluids while the blood vessel was located and stitched up to stem the bleeding.

The Friday morning incident began when a woman called the the police department saying her estranged husband had a knife and was threatening suicide. When police arrived, the man announced that he had killed his wife and would kill the police, according to Lt. Terry McManus.

About eight hours after surgery, Earp was released to his handler, Sgt. Jeff Havin. A follow-up visit is planned for Saturday.

Police Chief Bill Lansdowne went to the veterinary clinic  as Earp underwent surgery. The dog was within weeks of being retired.

"I'm going to give him a medal," Lansdowne said.

-- Tony Perry, San Diego

Photo: Earp, after surgery. Credit: John Gibbins / San Diego Union-Tribune

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