The man who stabbed an Aiken Bloodhound Tracking Team police K-9 while fleeing from law enforcement received a maximum sentence this week.
Patrick Spires, 31, of Aiken was found guilty by an Aiken County jury on charges of cruelty to a police dog and resisting arrest, resulting from incidents in November 2011. Circuit Court Judge Thomas W. Cooper sentenced Spires to five years in prison on the stabbing charge and one year for resisting arrest, with sentences to run concurrently.
Assistant Solicitor Kevin Molony prosecuted the case, which saw members of the Tracking Team testify.
Deputy Felton Craig testified as an expert in the case, explaining to the jury how law enforcement followed bloodhound Duke as he tracked down Spires and a co-defendant, who were running after allegedly stealing an 18-wheeler in Georgia and driving it in South Carolina. Bloodhounds are tracked with GPS collars, which, in this case, allowed officers to find where Duke was when he was stabbed, as Spires had cut the collar off and inflicted the injury.
The tracking team reached the sight of the attack and tended to Duke, while another dog continued the search, leading officers directly to Spires and his cohort.
In court, Molony and the testifying officers mapped the GPS trail to show the exact route Duke and his canine colleague took in tracking Spires. Spires was found hiding in a barn attic off Beech Island Avenue in Beech Island. It was here that Spires fought with Deputies, causing one to fall from the barn attic and suffer injury.
Duke received two stab wounds during the incident he returned to duty within weeks of the attack.
The Aiken Bloodhound Tracking Team is a joint operation staffed by 15 deputies and officers from the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office, Aiken Department of Public Safety and North Augusta Department of Public Safety, according to ACSO. Each Team consists of three members, a deputy and officer from each of the participating agencies. The group maintains six bloodhounds, which are used to search for wanted and missing individuals, as well as make appearances at community events.
Duke is not the first police K-9 to be injured in the line of duty. In 1991, Darryl Snow had 10 years added to his sentence for beating police K-9 Tex. Tex was rushed to hospital, recovered and went on to have a distinguished career, catching 822 perpetrators – not to mention that he is the father of many current K-9s.
Aiken Standard file photo Cross Yarborough plays with Dixie and Duke members of the Aiken County Bloodhound tracking team who play a vital role in the Project Lifesaver program. Duke was stabbed in November 2011. He has since recovered and his attacker was sentenced to five years in prison.×