Payson police are calling Brigg, the Russian Shepherd police dog, a hero after the six-year veteran was seriously injured in the line of duty last week.
Sgt. Rod Mamero, Brigg's handler, said he and the dog went to the scene of a burglary at Payson High School in the early morning hours of May 13.
"We've done hundreds and hundreds of building searches like this and located numerous subjects and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of narcotics," Mamero said Wednesday. "He was doing his job, protecting the other officers."
Mamero said police were using the dog to clear the building after the high school's security guard reported seeing four suspects in the area. "We were up in the catwalk area of the auditorium," Mamero said. "It was obviously very dark and the dog stepped out onto a ceiling panel that was not actually floor."
Brigg fell 20 feet to the auditorium floor, landing in front of the stage and narrowly missing the seats. "Had he hit those, he probably would have been killed," Mamero said. "Had the dog not been there, it may have been one of us who fell through."
Police took the injured animal to the Star Valley Veterinarian Clinic at about 3 a.m.. "We got the vet (Dr. Drew Justice) up," Mamero said. "They're real good about that. He treated him initially and stabilized him with an IV, splinted his front legs, and gave him medication for pain."
All the wrist bones in Brigg's left front leg were broken and pushed out of place, and all the tendons and ligaments were torn in both front legs, Mamero said.
Brigg was treated and released back to Mamero and underwent surgery the following day by a Valley orthopedic veterinarian.
"He underwent surgery fine," Mamero said. "He's in recovery and will have to have the same procedure done to his other leg."
The officer said Brigg will never be able to return to work as a patrol dog, but may be used later as a narcotics dog.
Brigg is walking now, though he has casts on both legs. "It's still pretty painful for him," Mamero said. "He was injured in the line of duty. Any information on this case would be greatly appreciated."
Mamero said detectives are continuing the investigation after police found several stashes of items -- guitars, a microwave oven, a camcorder and a lap-top computer -- in the high school auditorium.
They are looking for three or four suspects that the high school security guard spotted at about 2:30 a.m., Thursday, May 13.
Anyone with information can call the Payson Police Department at 474-5177.