K9 officer attacked deputy’s toddler, investigators’ report says

Officials have opened an investigation to determine whether a Monroe County K9, Max, attacked a...
Officials have opened an investigation to determine whether a Monroe County K9, Max, attacked a deputy's toddler.(wtvg)
Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 10:29 PM MST
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MONROE COUNTY, Mich. (WTVG/Gray News) - Officials in Michigan are investigating an incident in which a K9 officer allegedly attacked a deputy’s young daughter, leaving her with an apparent dog bite and broken nose.

The Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the alleged dog attack at the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office’s request, according to documentation provided by Monroe County following a FOIA request by WTVG.

The report said the alleged incident happened at the K9 handler’s home on Oct. 21 during an off-duty celebration for a dispatcher’s going away party.

The report said Monroe County Sheriff Troy Goodnough believed K9 Max injured a deputy’s daughter, leaving her with an apparent dog bite. Photos from the report show the child with a bloody face and arms. The report said the child suffered a large laceration down the front of her face and a broken nose.

“There also appeared to be scratch marks on either side of her forehead, multiple bruises and multiple puncture wounds on her left hand and arm,” the report read.

WTVG has chosen not to show the images of the child’s injuries from the report, as some may find them disturbing.

The final assessment from the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office said the most likely cause of the injuries was an attack by Max when left unsupervised. Goodnough told WTVG the handler owns the K9 officer, not the sheriff’s office. The K9 has since been removed from the department.

The victim’s mother told officials she was uncomfortable around Max because she heard the K9 growl throughout the night and that the dog was not kenneled or leashed during the party.

According to the Calhoun County report, the victim’s mother said she passed through the garage and noticed her daughter was there with the dog’s handler and her friend.

“She went to the car and was gone for approximately 30 seconds. At that time, she heard her daughter crying. As she ran back to the garage and to the kitchen, she saw her daughter covered in blood and crying. She also advised that she saw the dog, Max, standing next to her daughter but did not hear any other sounds except for the crying,” read the report in regard to the mother’s account.

She did not believe anyone saw the alleged attack happen but thought Max was responsible for her daughter’s injuries.

Max’s handler and his wife told officials they did not notice the K9 acting aggressively throughout the night but did say the dog is sociable. They also said the toddler was feeding Max snacks from a cup earlier in the night and did not notice any aggressive behavior.

The handler’s wife said that Max was in a bathroom with her when she heard the child screaming and crying in pain and said it was “impossible” that the dog attacked the girl.

The K9′s handler said he was in the garage at the time of the incident, and when he heard the girl scream, he ran inside and saw Max standing next to the child. He said the dog seemed calm and did not have blood on him.

The handler stayed behind to clean up the blood while others took the child to the hospital. He told officials he forgot to take photos before cleaning it up but did contact an on-duty lieutenant to let them know of the situation because it involved another deputy’s child.

The report says the handler and his wife said they weren’t sure what happened to the toddler but said “she could have climbed up on the counter and possibly have fallen off,” the report said. “They advised they looked throughout the kitchen for possible points of impact or other blood but could not find any.”

In regard to possible policy violations, the Calhoun County report said that the sheriff’s office does not have any policy requiring their K9s to be kenneled and that there are no restrictions on the dog being able to attend social events at their residences. There is also no mention that the K9 will be under the direct control of their handler at all times.

“While I believe better judgement should have been exercised, I do not find that {the deputy} was in violation of any policy regarding the incident,” the report read.

The report goes on to say that the investigation will go to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office for final disposition.

Max has not been put down, and it’s unclear what’s next for the dog at this time.

Friends of the victim’s family have created a GoFundMe to help with expenses.