A police officer in New Zealand is being hailed for his bravery after saving his canine partner when a gunman stole his police van.
The dog handler had spotted a suspicious car around midnight and identified it as a vehicle that police had pursued earlier in the day. Confirming it was the same vehicle, he approached the car with lights and sirens on, but the driver refused to stop and sped off. A chase ensued and the suspect reached speeds of 140 kilometers (87 miles) an hour before losing control and careening off the road.
"As the officer approached the stationary car with his dog the driver got out of the passenger side brandishing a handgun and threatened to kill the handler," said Superintendent Win van der Velde.
The officer backed away and the offender got into the officer’s police van. The K9 dog also jumped in to the back of the van, as he was trained to do.
The officer managed to pull his dog to safety before the man was turning the van to escape.
Truck drivers later helped police track the van and it was found on a rural property the next morning about 30 km away.
The suspect is still at large and is armed and dangerous. Police are appealing to the public for any information but are warning people to not approach the man.
Superintendent van der Velde commented, "The actions of the dog handler are highly commendable and speak volumes of the close bonds forged between handlers and their dogs. The officer and his dog are both fine and recovering at home."
Stock photo of German Shepherd Dog
via New Zealand City