Husband comes to wife's rescue during K9 attack

By: Sara Shookman Email
By: Sara Shookman Email

CARYVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A Knoxville police dog is dead after he attacked a neighbor outside his handler's home.

Police say Elko, a five-year-old Belgian Malinois, broke out of his kennel during a thunderstorm Thursday and bit a woman in the arm.

Animal control officers say they did what was necessary. Both the death of the dog and injury of his victim have the Paradise Cove neighborhood upset.

Gora Watts was treated and released. Her husband, Fred, wouldn't go on camera but told Volunteer TV the attack has left both he and his wife scarred.

A Campbell County Sheriff's Office reports shows Elko attacked Gora Watts as she stepped out of the car in the garage of her home on Bluff Trace Road.

Her husband says he beat the dog off his wife and called 9-1-1.

KPD says the dog got of his pen at his handler, Officer Jonathan Chadwell's home, in Caryville.

Neighbor James Stephens was outside mowing when the storm came up, and officers arrived asking about a black dog on the loose.

"He said one had bit the neighbor," said Stephens. "I said I know there's a police dog because the guy up the street owns one. He's a K9 officer from Knoxville."

A KPD spokesperson says the department allows a small number of specialty unit officers to take their vehicles home, and K9 officers often keep their animal partner at home for round-the-clock care.

Animal Control of Campbell County says they had no idea Elko was a police dog, or that one even lived in the area. They say the officer responded as he would to any aggressive dog.

"That's what he's trained to do. And he was protecting himself," said Supervisor Betty Crumley. "That dog was very strong."

Crumley says judge-deemed dangerous dogs must register with the county, and she'd like to see the same for police dogs.

"We might have been able to contact the owner, the handler, and perhaps prevented what had to happen," she said. "But we're here to protect the citizens of the country from animals and that's exactly what we were doing."

Stephens says he's seen the dog dozens of times and never thought of Elko as a danger.

"I think it might have been a freak of nature. All animals are afraid of lightning and stuff. It might be the lightning cause it was bad," he said.

Now he just hopes Watts recovers. "I'm just worried about her and how she is," he said.

Gora's family tells me she's in pain from bruises and a puncture wound, and certainly has a fear of dogs.

KPD is still investigating the incident, and Officer Chadwell is still on regular duty.

Elko cost about $4,500 and he had been with the department since 2003. The department has 12 K9 officer teams after this loss.

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  • by Damian Location: new york on Aug 28, 2011 at 10:32 PM
    Hope ur wife get welled soon an also get over her fear of dogs not all dogs or bad it was train to do Wat it did. From my heart am sorry to hear Wat happen
  • by Robert Location: New jersey on Jul 11, 2011 at 04:19 AM
    The canine units need to be dismantled nation wide the courts and the police LIE LIE LIE There has been many instances over the years where theses dogs have turned on there handlers for one reason or another The breeds are bred that way high strung & right on the edge. The biggest JOKE IS THAT THEY ARE CALLED OFFICERS YOU can sue police for abuse but they have stiffer guide lines in place in case a dog wrongfully attacks you just to protect the states and officer from being sued!!!!!!!! WHAT A JOKE
  • by Tiffany Location: Caryville on Jun 10, 2011 at 08:37 PM
    I think the dog felt threatened when she told the dog to leave and thats what caused the dog to attack. Overall its a sad situation either way you look at it.
  • by Crimedawg Location: downtown on Jun 10, 2011 at 07:44 PM
    There needs to be a standard collar for k9 officers nationwide. Bright orange would be the easiest to see day or night. But some way that other officers and the public at large would know that the dog is special and should be treated that way. It would have to be unique for law enforcement only.
  • by Andi Location: Knoxville on Jun 10, 2011 at 12:58 PM
    I wonder what the neighbor lady had on her to make the K-9 bite her... You would think that K-9 cops would be trained well enough to not bite unless they had a reason.
    • reply
      by Vickie on Jun 10, 2011 at 04:12 PM in reply to Andi
      I know the lady that was bitten. She would not have had anything on her to make that dog bite her.
  • by Gary Location: Greeneville on Jun 10, 2011 at 09:42 AM
    This person who is suppose to be able to handle dogs knows nothing about them they are very frighten by thunder. and his HOME was not very good Please do not let him ever have another dog as he knows nothing about taking care of them
  • by Karen Location: Knoxville on Jun 10, 2011 at 09:04 AM
    Hope his handler does not get another dog. He got his partner killed. Why was the dog's kennel able to fall over? Storms scare many dogs. The poor dog was frightened.
    • reply
      by Danny on Jun 10, 2011 at 07:27 PM in reply to Karen
      Looks like a K-9 dog would be inside of the house,instead of outside in a thunder storm.


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