OC sheriff's K-9 attacks county employee during training exercise

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- An Orange County sheriff's K-9 attacked an innocent worker in his office during a training exercise. According to a county incident report, it happened Aug. 29 at an O.C. Public Works specialty shop building located at 1102 Fruit St. in Santa Ana.

"A member of the county family was injured during the course of our training and that's not acceptable to us and we have significant concerns," said Capt. Jason Park, with the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

According to the incident report, the victim, who is not being identified, is a supervising fleet technician. He was in his office getting ready to leave between 5:30 and 6 p.m. when the dog attacked.

The report said the dog continued to bite him for about a minute until his trainer stopped him. Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer, who saw the victim, says he suffered deep lacerations and puncture wounds to his arm and may need plastic surgery. In a Facebook post, Spitzer said dogs save officers' lives in building searches.

"When a dog is improperly utilized and an innocent victim is hurt we have a responsibility to inquire to ensure that protocols are in place to protect the public and county workers," said Spitzer.

Certain steps are taken to ensure everyone's safety before a drill begins, said Park. When asked if protocol was followed this time, Park said, "This incident has been referred to internal affairs so we're not sure precisely how the safety check was done of the scene, but we're confident at the conclusion of this investigation we'll know precisely what happened."

Spitzer said he has put the issue on the agenda for a Board of Supervisors meeting on Sept. 11 for discussion. He said he would like to see the Office of Independent Review look into what happened.

Park said he can understand the concern. He said after the attack, immediate action was taken, including limiting K-9 training exercises to only sheriff's department buildings. Park said attacks like this are "extremely rare, given the amount of training that we do."

He said there was one incident at least a year ago where an OCSD employee was bitten, but that was not during training, it took place during a real incident.

Nine dogs are part of the Sheriff's K-9 apprehension team. The dog involved in the attack is not being identified.
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