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Petaluma police dog hurt in training exercise

An award-winning Petaluma police dog was to undergo surgery Wednesday after suffering a spinal injury when he fell Monday during a training exercise.

Rico, an 8-year-old Belgian Malinois, has been the partner of Officer Mike Page since 2007. He is a "dual use" canine officer, meaning he is trained to apprehend suspects and sniff out illegal drugs.

During routine practice Monday night, Rico fell from a 15-foot ledge inside a business, Lt. Tim Lyons said. He was rushed to a veterinarian with neck and possible internal injuries.

"We're hoping for a positive outcome," he said.

Rico has apprehended five wanted suspects, including two known gang members, a suspect wanted for assault with a deadly weapon and a man who had escaped from police custody using a hidden handcuff key, Lyons said.

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