A Southern California police dog who was shot while protecting his handler in November is back on the job — with a bulletproof vest in tow.
The police dog, along with six other members of the West Covina Police Department, were honored for services "above and beyond" their calls of duty during the annual City of West Covina Public Safety Luncheon Monday at South Hills Country Club.
Two-year-old Reiko was awarded the Medal of Valor "for courage under fire and act of bravery without regard for his own safety." He was the WCPD’s first community-purchased police dog, bought and trained with donations from local businesses and residents in December 2013.
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Reiko was shot as police searched for a person wanted in connection with a homicide outside of a West Covina church on Nov. 23. They found a man who fit the description on the roof of a house in a nearby neighborhood.
Officer Bryan Rodriguez deployed the dog after the suspect jumped down to the driveway, said police. Once Reiko reached the gunman, the man fired at the dog and the officers.
The K-9 was shot "dangerously close” to his spine, according to a statement from the West Covina Police Department.
"For him to jump in there and take that bullet, it's just amazing," said Officer Bryan Rodriguez in November. "He saved myself and my partners. He did something a lot of guys wouldn't do."
Reiko, a Belgian Malinois, underwent two surgeries and weeks of rehabilitation on his journey to recovery. Police officials expected Reiko to be back on patrol in three or four months but his condition improved much quicker than anticipated. They released an image of the dog in his new bulletproof vest.