A Santa Ana police dog that lost nearly all his teeth in the process of taking down a parolee following a wild chase underwent surgery Tuesday to repair the damage.
Santa Ana police said Puskas lost all his upper and lower teeth, with the exception of his canine teeth, in the scuffle with the suspect, who was treated at a hospital prior to being booked Monday at the Orange County Jail on suspicion of numerous felonies for allegedly leading police on the high-speed chase from Santa Ana to Irvine, where he abandoned his pickup truck and carjacked a woman’s SUV before being taken into custody.
Puskas, apparently named after Hungarian soccer legend Ferenc Puskas, was let loose on the suspect, who had a 40-yard head start, because his handler figured the dog would catch up to the man, who was headed toward an open business, according to Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.
During the struggle with the suspect, Puskas’ face was slammed into the pavement, and some of the dog’s teeth were jammed into his gums and some were halfway broken off, Bertagna said. The dog also had a large cut to his lower lip area, he said, adding that the canine was treated by veterinarians at VCA Yorba Regional Animal Hospital.
It’s not yet clear if the dog will need implants, Bertagna said, but the injuries won’t end his K9 career.
“He’ll be out for a couple of weeks, but then he’ll be back on the job,” Bertagna said.
Nine days before Monday’s chase, Antonio Padilla Jr. allegedly committed an assault with a deadly weapon on a Garden Grove motor officer who narrowly missed being struck by the suspect’s truck during a traffic stop, according to Garden Grove police Lt. Carl Whitney.
The officer had stopped Padilla at the intersection of Trask Avenue and Taft Street for a traffic violation about 12:15 p.m. Feb. 18 and as he was writing the citation, Padilla allegedly backed up his truck, almost striking the officer, then drove off, Whitney said.
Officers later learned that the 37-year-old Riverside County resident was on parole and under active supervision and wanted for a parole violation, Whitney said.
Detectives had been looking for Padilla in Orange and Riverside counties and about 5 p.m. Monday, they located his 2016 GMC Sierra in Santa Ana, the lieutenant said.
Santa Ana police in marked vehicles were asked to stop the truck, but Padilla refused to yield and the chase ensued, during which the suspect drove recklessly on freeways and surface streets, rear-ending one vehicle and side- swiping others, authorities said.
An Orange County Sheriff’s Department helicopter unit and the Santa Ana police K-9 unit joined the chase, which moved into Irvine, where Padilla’s pickup truck became disabled about 5:40 p.m., Whitney said.
At that point, Padilla abandoned his pickup and allegedly carjacked a woman’s Audi SUV, despite her brother’s efforts to stop the suspect. The victim and her brother barely missed being struck by the carjacked SUV as Padilla again drove off, according to Whitney.
Minutes later, the Audi jumped a curb, hit a tree and soon after became disabled near the intersection of Kelvin and Derian avenues. Padilla ran from the SUV and was arrested after a brief struggle with the police dog, Whitney said.
Police had to put a “spit hood” restraint device on the suspect, according to Bertagna.
–City News Service