Off Beat: Police dogs don't always follow script while on duty

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Don't trust everything you see on TV.

A suspect learned that lesson a few years back while trying to run from a police dog. It was a painful lesson.

Clark County sheriff's Deputy Brian Ellithorpe said the man, suspected of felony domestic-violence assault, jumped out of a second-story window when officers responded.

"He takes off running right past my car," Ellithorpe said, recalling the event.

Ellithorpe told him to stop or he'd release his dog. The man didn't stop, but did something Ellithorpe didn't expect: He raised his arms and tucked them in front of his chest.

"From my perspective, it was like, 'What in the world is he doing?'" Ellithorpe said.

He released his dog, Eiko, from the back of his car. The dog caught up with the suspect and bit his leg.

Ellithorpe later met up with the man at the hospital and asked him why he raised his arms. The man's response was: "I saw it on 'COPS.'"

The man went on to explain that dogs he saw on the TV show only bite suspects' arms, Ellithorpe said.

Unfortunately for the man, Clark County canines are trained to bite other parts of the body when arms aren't available.

Interviewing officers for a recent Columbian story on police dogs brought up another canine caper from the past.

In July 1993, sheriff's Deputy Greg Chaney stopped an erratic driver near the former Ellsworth Elementary School and ordered the man and his girlfriend to lie face-down on the ground. Chaney approached them as his K9 partner jumped into the front seat of the patrol car and bumped it into gear.

Chaney saw the car moving towards them, ran back to it and slammed the gearshift into park -- but not before he heard the woman scream.

After the incident, the Beaverton, Ore., woman said the car ran over her shoulder area, and told The Columbian her shoulder was sore.

The driving dog's name was Turbo.-- Paul Suarez

Off Beat lets members of The Columbian news team step back from our newspaper beats to write the story behind the story, fill in the story or just tell a story.