The Houston Police Department is mourning the loss of one of its K-9 officers after an overnight chase left the dog with a broken leg.
The dog, K-9 Officer Rony, was chasing a suspect who bailed out of a stolen vehicle in northeast Houston when the dog somehow got his leg stuck on a log going at full speed.
The suspect was apprehended in a wooded area not far from where the car chase ended at River Trail and Lakemont.
The 9-year-old dog suffered a severe leg injury, and police took him to the emergency animal hospital where they made the decision that he had to be put down early Wednesday.
The blow destroyed Rony's elbow. X-rays show just how bad the injury was.
“We knew this was bad the second they walked in before I ever touched him," Emergency Veterinarian Dr. Laura Ron said.
But bad turned to worse.
“He was an older dog, already had arthritis on his left forearm that we’ve been dealing for years, already on lots of meds,” Dr. Ron said.
Dr. Ron says the choice to put him down was a hard one.
“It's like a race horse with a broken leg – what quality of life would he have?" Dr. Ron said. "Even though its not a decision everyone is going to agree with, it’s the best one for that dog.”
For a pup who was so much more than just a pet, the injury was one they just knew he couldn’t come back from.
"That is not just a dog by any means, that is an officer. That is that man's partner, who he has been with for years, and who he relies on to protect him and vice versa," Dr. Ron said. "He is very driven, and he is both bred and inspired to work every single day. If you put this dog through orthopedic surgery, amputation or reconstruction, he would need to be on rest for months, and that would drive him nuts.”
Rony served as an HPD patrol dog for 7 years and racked up 250 captures.
Many have since offered their condolences on social media.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner did so during city council and tweeted his condolences.
To HPD Chief Art Acevedo, Rony was their best dog.
“He went out the way that he would want to go out, capturing the suspect," Acevedo said.
It’s a loss that's not only felt by his department, but the entire city he was serving to protect.
It has been more than twenty years since the department has had a K-9 die in the line of duty.
Because of that, they are reaching out to other law enforcement agencies to find out how they’ve handled their services.
Until then, Chief Acevedo has authorized all officers to wear their mourning badge as a sign of respect and honor for Officer Rony.
The suspect, Randy Wilkerson, 37, is facing two charges: Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon and Evading Arrest in a Motor Vehicle.
Whether or not charges will be enhanced following Rony’s death will ultimately be decided by the DA.