By Pierrette J. Shields
LONGMONT — An injury retired Longmont Police K-9 Izzy suffered in April 2007 while fighting with a suspect now requires surgery that could cost his handler $6,000.
The Longmont Fraternal Order of Police this week opened an account for Izzy’s surgery with $500 and is now asking residents to help out.
“He worked for us for nine years and he did a lot of good work in those nine years,” said Detective Steve Schulz, president of the LFOP.
Detective Bruce Vaughan, Izzy’s handler, said when the dog retired the city stopped paying for his care because technically working animals are equipment. Although Izzy suffered his injury working, the veterinary bills are no longer covered.
Izzy was injured after he was used to detain Alfredo Salayandia, who was convicted in December 2007 on menacing and drug charges and sentenced to 13 years in prison.
Salayandia’s arrest concluded nearly two weeks of dodging police officers who started looking for him after they were told he put a gun to his girlfriend’s head during an April 19 dispute.
Four days after that dispute, according to police reports, Salayandia confronted a friend of his girlfriend’s who reportedly witnessed him threaten his girlfriend on April 19. Police believe he forced the woman to stop her car near Alpine Street and Mountain View Avenue and pointed a gun at her while she sat in her car.
According to police, Salayandia led officers on three high-speed chases between April 19 and April 30. He crashed his truck during the third chase on April 30 — his girlfriend, Crista Lewis, was in the vehicle with him. Izzy chased him and stopped him, but the dog was flipped over in the fray and suffered an injury along his spine, which Vaughan said has been diagnosed as a ruptured disk. The injury is making it difficult for the 11-year-old retired police dog to use his hind legs.
“He tends to get wiggly in the rear end,” Vaughan said. “He’s slow getting up.”
Vaughan said the dog doesn’t show pain, but remains stoic. Other than the injury, he said, Izzy is energetic and healthy.
“He still has a puppy face. He’s got a lot of energy,” he said.
Because Izzy is a police dog, he needs to be with Vaughan, who is trained to handle him. For his part, Vaughan said Izzy was always a partner who could save the lives of human officers. Still, every time he “deployed” Izzy he knew the dog could be injured or killed.
“You are sending your dog on a suicide mission that he may not come back from, but your human partner will,” he said.
The injury Izzy suffered in the fight with Salayandia led to his retirement, which meant Longmont police had to depend on Boulder County Sheriff’s Office dogs if needed. However, two officers are training with new dogs and are scheduled to return with them next month, said Longmont Police Cmdr. Tim Lewis.
Meanwhile, Schulz said the FOP and other officers want to do what they can to ensure Izzy gets his surgery so he can live comfortably in retirement.
Donations for the surgery can be made to FOP No. 6 K9 Fund in care of Guarantee Bank and Trust, P.O. Box 1159, Longmont 80502.
Vaughan said Izzy will get the surgery at Aspen Meadows Veterinary Clinic in two to four weeks.
Pierrette J. Shields can be reached at 303-684-5273 or firstname.lastname@example.org.