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First aid training, Life Flight key to saving HPD K-9 Nate's life, handler says

A program created for K-9 officers in 2020 may have saved Nate's life after being stabbed on Saturday.

HOUSTON, Texas — The Houston Police Department K-9 that was stabbed on Saturday by a suspect has been released from a veterinary hospital.

'Nate' the service dog has a scar on his chest from the stabbing and surgery.

“He’s an amazing dog,” said HPD Sr. Officer Paul Foster, who is the dog’s handler. “I just can’t say enough good things about him.”

RELATED: Suspect in HPD K-9 stabbing now accused of beating father to death with dumbbell

Foster and Nate were called to assist police chasing a suspect near the Heights on Saturday.

Ryan Smith, 26, allegedly car jacked a couple near Memorial Park, then fled police, ending up in a neighborhood.

Nate was sent to find the suspect who was hiding in a resident’s backyard.

“The guy was just running from officers,” Foster said. “He decided to run into a backyard. Officers were chasing this guy for 15 to 20 minutes before I got there. Nobody observed a weapon nobody heard that a weapon was involved we didn’t know the guy was armed.”

Police say Smith was found with a large kitchen knife.

“[Nate] had released the suspect...he was still standing,” Foster said. “He was very in shock I think he was swaying back and forth.”

Nate had suffered a knife wound that was nine inches deep.

Several of his arteries had been cut and he was bleeding to death.

Luckily, HPD K-9 officers were given kits from Memorial Hermann Life Flight’s K-9 Casualty Care Course.

“Without that kit, without the training that I fell back on that day, I don’t think Nate would be here with us,” Foster said.

Foster was able to take the medicated gauze from his kit and stuff Nate’s wound until they reached the veterinary hospital.

Life Flight was standing by to take the K-9 officer to Texas A&M for surgery if needed.

“The only difference when you look at the whole process is, instead of the K-9 officer coming to the trauma hospital, they’re taken to the vet hospital,” said Memorial Hermann Life Flight’s Vice President Tom Flanagan.

Flanagan helped create the service for K-9 officers in 2020.

It's only one of its kind in the country and was inspired by the memory of Dr. “Red” Duke, the dog-loving Houston physician who created Life Flight.

Nate is the first documented proof the program works.

“If they didn’t pack the wound, and all the stars hadn’t aligned like they were planned to align, I don’t believe we would have Nate here today with with us,” Flanagan said.

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