Mansfield, OH – The City of Mansfield’s mayor is recovering from the five broken ribs he suffered while participating in a police K9 takedown demonstration last week.
"The dog and the trainer – they did an excellent job,” Mansfield Mayor Tim Theaker told WJW. “They did what they are supposed to do and they hit me pretty hard."
The 66-year-old mayor’s injuries occurred during a demonstration at the Mansfield K9 Training Facility on Oct. 24, the Richland Source reported.
The event was part of a ceremony that was held in appreciation of Lowe’s Home Improvement of Ontario, which had donated supplies and workers to remodel multiple areas of the K9 facility.
Theaker had participated in a K9 takedown demonstration in the past, so he and two Mansfield K9 officers agreed to do so for the Lowe’s appreciation event, the Richland Source reported.
The mayor put a protective sleeve on his right arm, and K9 Mekel rushed and clamped down on the sleeve as anticipated.
But during the split-second takedown, Theaker lost his footing and landed hard on a cement sidewalk nearby, video footage showed.
"This dog had a lot of traction and he was coming towards me and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh what did I agree to do this time?’” the mayor told WJW. “When he hit me, it was all over.”
“I mean, he hit me like a Mack Truck and just knocked me back and knocked me down, and as soon as that happened, I felt the ribs or something give…I was panicking to get back up," he explained.
Theaker immediately released the sleeve as officers jumped in to end the demonstration and tend to him, WJW reported.
"They are trained to do just that, and they stop at nothing,” Mansfield City Safety Service Director Lori Cope said of K9 Mekel. “Luckily, the trainer was there – the handler – and of course, stopped immediately when the mayor went down.”
Theaker went back to his office after the hard hit, but when the pain failed to subside, his staff convinced him to go to the hospital, WJW reported.
He was subsequently diagnosed with five broken ribs in his back area, which could take approximately eight weeks to heal.
Despite his injuries, the mayor said he has no ill feelings towards K9 Mekel or his handler.
“You might have heard that I cracked a few ribs while visiting training. It’s true, but it’s minor compared to the daily sacrifice our first responders make,” Theaker said in a Facebook post one day after the incident. “I’m proud of the K9 team and I have full confidence in their capabilities and training.”
He also issued a warning to criminals who might encounter a police K9 in the future.
“I sure do pity the criminals that these dogs go after because I’ll tell you – these dogs are trained to take down a lot larger individual than me,” he added during his interview with WJW.