by: Courtesy photo St. Helens Police Department K-9 Lykos

St. Helens' injured K-9 Lykos may never be able to return to police service, but should be able to walk again without agonizing discomfort after a surgery last week.

Lykos, a 3-year-old German Shepherd that's served as St. Helens' police dog for the past year, successfully underwent back surgery Sept. 27 to repair a damaged vertebrae.

Earlier that month, Lykos' handler Officer Jon Eggers noticed the dog limping so badly it was unable to climb into the police cruiser. A preliminary check-up indicated Lykos had a possibly career-ending back problem that would require surgery.

If the injury had progressed, the dog could even have been euthanized. That's no longer an option, said Chief of Police Steve Salle

After the surgery, Lykos is recovering, but his future with the St. Helens Police Department remains in question, Salle said.

A fund set up in Lykos' name at US Bank has already raised about $8,000, which will go toward the dog's recovery. The police department is not allowed to spend taxpayer money on the dog's medical costs.

The amount of donor money the department received is 'really impressive,' Salle said. Some donations came from as far away as Utah. The German Shepherd Dog Club of Oregon and dog lovers across the county have also chipped in at a surprising pace, he said.

If Lykos is unable to return to police work, the department would like to replace him. Police dogs are insured through the city, but the department has not filed a claim on Lykos. Salle hopes to use the insurance money to purchase and train a new K-9 officer.

Buying and training a police dog can cost more than $10,000, according to department officials.

'I hope the insurance picks up the tab,' Salle said.

But that scenario is unlikely unless the department can show the dog received the injury while on the job, Salle said.

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