K-9 Ely was undergoing additional treatment at a veterinarian’s office Monday, after collapsing in 90-plus degree heat while tracking a shooting suspect Sunday, said Rutherford County Sheriff’s K-9 Sgt. Lee Young.
Ely, who is a 3-year-old Belgian malinois breed, was expected to remain under the veterinarian’s care for a few days.
Sgt. Young and Ely, along with Cpl. David Ashburn and his K-9 Venture and Deputy Mike Hoekstra and his K-9 Balu, joined in searching for suspect Bradley Benefield who was later spotted on Strickland Road . With help from a Tennessee Highway Patrol helicopter pilot, Young and Ely, Deputies Nick Coble, SRO Curtis Brinkley and Paramedic Chris Clark began searching the area. Ely had a good sign of where the suspect traveled.
Benefield was located later hiding in a neighbor’s garage. He was charged with aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary.
“About 300 yards in, the dog started having signs of heat distress,” Sgt. Young said. “We watered him and let him rest, then let him off the lead so he could search at his own pace. About 50 to 60 yards later, the dog wasn’t doing any better.”
When Ely collapsed, Paramedics Chris Clark and Philip Nichols started IVs. They and Sgt. Young and Deputy Hoekstra performed medical rescue and cooled and comforted the K-9. Veterinarian Dr. Sara Covert worked on Ely for about four hours. Sgt. Young took Ely home to make the K-9 comfortable overnight.
After reviewing the circumstances, Sheriff Robert Arnold plans to recommend some changes.
“We’re going to attempt to get funding for cooling vests for the K-9s to use in hot weather,” Sheriff Arnold said. “We’re going to start looking at heat sensors for all our vehicles to detect rising temperatures in cars. We will get medic packs for all K-9 deputies.”
He also plans to implement more advanced classes about medical emergencies for the K-9 deputies.