GRAND RAPIDS, (WOOD) — At first glance, 4-year-old Dozer, a Grand Rapids Police dog, looks like an ordinary canine — full of energy, wanting to play with his toys and looking for attention.
It’s hard to tell that just two months ago, he was involved in a serious crash while on duty with GRPD Officer Teddy VanVliet.
“We’re doing well,” said VanVliet. “He’s healed a lot since the accident. He’s at a good level right now, but at the same time, it was a traumatic injury and we’re still battling through that.”
Around 3 a.m. on Aug. 4, VanVliet and Dozer were heading to a reported breaking and entering in progress with lights and sirens on. At the intersection of Madison Avenue SE and Hall Street SE, the cruiser was hit by an SUV estimated to have been going at least 75 mph. According to police, VanVliet was pinned in the cruiser and had to be freed by firefighters. He was not hurt.
Dozer, on the other hand, suffered from a severe spinal injury, paralyzing his hind legs.
“The moment the accident hit, and you can hear him cry, something I never heard him do before, other than that,” explained VanVliet. “From what it looked like a few hours after the accident, of what it could turn out to be, to what he is now, I am very thankful that we’ve gotten to where we are at.”
But will Dozer return to work?
“I can’t say that for sure,” said VanVliet. “Odds are not in his favor, to be realistic. But we’re doing everything we can to get him back to that level.”
Dozer will continue to work with a physical therapist. Police said they are still working to find the people involved in the crash. If you have any information, you can call GRPD at 616.456.3400 or Silent Observer at 616.774.2345.