Earlier on Monday, a family called San Diego Police saying their son was having mental health issues and trying to hit family members, and was carrying a knife.
Officers got to the scene off 70th Street in the College East area. They say they saw the man with a silver blade knife about six inches long, lunging at moving vehicles and running through a residential area.
As officers closed off traffic and tried to get the man to drop his knife, they say he remained confrontational so officers sent in their K9, Karson, a 6-year-old German Shepherd.
Karson's handler is San Diego Police Officer Jonathan Weise. Weise says when they got to the scene, it was chaotic. He says officers send in a police dog so a suspect will surrender peacefully, but that didn’t happen. Instead, officers say the man tried to grab one of their guns, and started stabbing Karson.
“The dog bit and held the suspect giving the officers the opportunity to take him into custody. However during that apprehension, the suspect was stabbing the dog multiple times,” Lt. Chris Tivanian said.
But Karson is wearing a new stab-proof vest. Lt Tivanian says, “This ballistic vest did save the dog's life. We're sure of it.”
In the past few years, 3 other SDPD K9s have been stabbed. One lost several inches of his colon. All had to undergo surgery.
Back in July, a wanted felon stabbed Karson several times in the head. Weise says Karson was back on the job the very next day.
CBS 8 asked Weise what that’s like to see someone stab the dog he loves, the dog that’s part of his family.
“It's very gut wrenching. This dog lives with me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. He’s part of my family. We’ve been together numerous years. But at the end of the day the San Diego Police Department does value a human’s life over an animal’s life. It’s that tough balance as a police officer with a K9. To have to block that part out and do your job and once it’s over, then evaluate what you have,” Weise said. “You switch quickly into dad/owner mode, concerned parent. Hurry up get the vest off, check him.”
Weise says the department does evaluate a dog if they are in a traumatic event like being stabbed or getting shot. They make sure their drive is still there to do their job.
Weise and Karson are a good team together. Weise has jumped into action in the most intense situations around San Diego. Back in 2020 he jumped off Sunset Cliffs to save children from a father who drove them off the cliff. In 2019, he was the officer who arrested the suspect in the Chabad of Poway shootings after a woman was killed and 3 others were hurt.
A donor who supports the San Diego Police Department bought Karson’s vest since he’s part of the SWAT team.
The department is now waiting to get vests for all its K9s. They say they need them because the people they’re dealing with are more violent than ever.
“I’ve never seen it this bad. They’ve gotten a lot more violent towards the dogs and it's very scary. If someone's willing to take their own life, assault one of their own family members, a dog- would they care about any other citizens or officers? It shows the mentality of the subject you're dealing with,” Weise said.
The suspect went to the hospital for his dog bite and faces multiple charges including injuring an officer. Weise says he’ll keep checking Karson, feeling through his thick fur, and make sure he’s not hurt since Karson can’t actually tell him. “It could have been a lot worse,” Weise said.
WATCH RELATED: San Diego Police dog recovering after vicious attack (July 2022).
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