GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Grand Rapids police dog that was stabbed multiple times about three months ago is back at work.

K-9 Eli has been working full-time with his handler for the past couple weeks following a gradual return to his training. The dog’s handler Officer Justin Kribs said Eli has had a remarkable recovery.

Eli was injured in November when he helped with removing an assault suspect from a home.

“When I sent him down to the basement, went down there and you could hear him jumping around and hitting all the clutter,” Kribs said. “I end up hearing the guy kind of scream.”

Kribs said he heard Eli yelp and the dog walked back to his handler with eight stab wounds.

“One in the neck was really concerning,” Kribs said. “They had punctured the chest cavity so he had the sucking chest wound so his lung was collapsing.”

The police dog was rushed to an animal hospital, where veterinarians saved him.

“I think it was like three blood transfusions he ended up having to get because there was a substantial amount of blood loss,” Kribs said.

Eli spent months recovery at Kribs’ home. It soon became apparent he was ready to get back to work.

“When we brought him back in training, we just started real light … and everything we did he was gung-ho about. In fact, when he was kind of on his recovery at home, he was a pain in the butt at home because he had so much energy,” Kribs said.

Grand Rapids police K-9 Eli at work on Feb. 3, 2023.
Grand Rapids police K-9 Eli at work on Feb. 3, 2023.

Officers also had to be sure the dog could still perform in high-stress situations and follow his training.

“We finally had to replicate, as best we could, the same incident just kind of like a pressure test,” Kribs said. “He acted like nothing ever happened, was full speed.”

Kribs said he is grateful Eli is back on the job and is thankful for the community support during the dog’s recovery.

“As sad as it is for the dogs to get hurt and injured like that, it’s protecting human life and that’s a big part of these dogs is to keep our officers and citizens safe,” Kribs said.

Eli will continue to keep up on his training. He is 6 years old; Kribs said police dogs typically work until they are 8 or 10.