Hurricane K-9 nearing full return to work, handler grateful for ‘incredible’ support
HURRICANE, Utah — Hurricane police K-9 Riko is on track to make a full recovery after being stabbed last month, according to his handler.
Officer Eric Demille said Riko was allowed to return to work this week, sniffing out narcotics. Riko’s stitches will be removed this week, and his veterinarian believes Riko will be ready to resume patrol work.
“The support that we have received from the community has been like nothing I have ever seen. Riko has received treats, bones, stuffed animals, toys, blankets and more,” Demille said. “There isn’t a place I go right now, that I am not asked about his recovery. I am constantly asked how he is doing and told that they are following his recovery.
“I really want to say thank you to the support that has been shown. It has been incredible. My family and I are also very thankful for the care that Riko was given, and that he is making such a fast and good recovery. We wouldn’t know what to do at home and at work without him.”
Riko was injured while responding to an incident on Dec. 27, 2022. Hurricane police were dispatched to the city’s cemetery, where a man said he was being threatened. The man began yelling at officers before driving a car at them, according to police.
The man then fled the area in the car before he crashed into another vehicle, abandoned the car and entered a home.
Officers entered the home and reported shots were fired, saying the suspect, later identified as 46-year-old Jose Palacios Pascacio, was shot and killed, and Riko was critically injured after being stabbed.
“When Riko was attacked, it was a massive rollercoaster of emotions for me,” Demille said. “I had to make a split-second decision, to send him or hope we were able to stop the male before he got to us. I sent Riko knowing the suspect had a knife but knowing Riko was the only thing that would slow the male down to prevent another officer from being hurt. Riko did his job and did not hesitate to do it. Riko gave the other officers a chance to safely do what they had to do, so we did not get hurt or killed.”
Demille said Riko was stabbed in the neck with a large knife, with the wound extending down toward his chest. The knife cut several veins, a couple of arteries and Riko’s trachea.
Riko was taken to St. George for emergency surgery at the Southwest Animal Emergency Clinic, where Demille says his K-9 received blood from St. George police K-9 Enzo.
The two were then transported to Las Vegas, where Riko received further care at the Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care Center.
“I was told Riko would not have made the transport without the blood transfusion,” Demille said.
After performing additional tests, the 5-and-a-half-year-old Belgian Malinois/German Shepherd mix was upgraded to stable condition and released on Dec. 29.
Demille said Riko has been spoiled with a new bed, more free time around the house and lots of treats and bones during his recovery.
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