HURRICANE, Utah (ABC4) – Hurricane Police K9 Riko’s partner shared an update on the dog’s recovery and his feelings after Riko was stabbed while attempting to apprehend a suspect in December.

After weeks of recovery, Riko has been cleared to return to work sniffing narcotics and hopes to be cleared for patrol soon. In the meantime, Riko has been enjoying free time at home with Eric Demille and his family.

Hurricane Officer Eric Demille said it was a massive roller coaster of emotions. Riko had been a part of Demille’s family for over four years and on Dec. 26, he had to make a difficult decision. Police were involved in a short pursuit that eventually ended with the suspect entering a stranger’s home, armed with a knife.

“I had to make a split-second decision, to send [Riko] or hope we were able to stop the male [suspect] before he got to us,” said Demille. “I sent Riko knowing the suspect had a knife but knowing Riko was the only thing that would slow the male down to prevent another officer from being hurt. Riko did his job and did not hesitate to do it.”

Demille said Riko gave officers a chance to stop the suspect without getting hurt or killed and he was proud of Riko for the job that he did. But he was also scared that Riko wouldn’t come out of the attack alive.

In the incident, Riko was stabbed by a large knife. According to Demille, the knife went into Riko’s neck and down toward his chest, severing several veins, arteries, and his trachea. Demille acted quickly to apply pressure to slow the bleeding, but Riko was bleeding severely and his body was beginning to bloat.

Medics reportedly arrived and were able to get him to an emergency vet where surgery was able to stop the bleeding. At one point, vets were talking about the possibility Riko’s leg would be amputated due to the severity of the wound. Despite the complications, vets were able to save Riko and his leg, with a little help from a blood transfusion donated by St. George Police Department K9 Enzo.

Once the emergency vet stabilized Riko, he was prepped to be transported to the Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care Center (VE&CC) in Las Vegas.

“I was told Riko would not have made the transport without the blood transfusion,” said Demille.

Vets at the VE&CC woke Riko up after positive scans, and Demille said Riko was clearly ready to go mentally. Just before the new year, Riko was cleared to come home, being able to go from not being able to stand to walking and greeting VE&CC staff in a couple of hours.

Since returning home, Demille said Riko’s recovery has been great but he is eager to get back into the field.

“I got my work equipment out to clean it and get ready to return. The second Riko saw my vest, he began spinning circles, and went to the back door,” said Demille. “For anyone that has met Riko, they know he loves to work. He has a very hardheaded and determined personality.”

Riko still has a bit to go before he is ready to return to full service. Demille said Riko is on track to make a full recovery, having gotten past limping and doesn’t need help walking. The progress has received the green light from Riko’s normal vet to sniff out narcotics and he will be getting the stitches removed soon. It won’t be long before Riko returns to patrol work.

In the meantime, Riko has been spoiled with treats, bones, a new bed, and adoration from Demille, his family, and the community at large.

“The support that we have received from the community has been like nothing I have ever seen,” shared Demille. “Riko has received treats, bones, stuffed animals, toys, blankets and more. There is a place I go right now, that I am not asked about his recovery. I am constantly asked how he is doing and told they are following his recovery.”

Demille and his family said they are grateful for the community’s support, for the incredible care Riko received throughout his recovery, and that Riko is making such a fast and good recovery.

“We wouldn’t know what to do at home and at work without him,” concluded Demille.