Thor to the rescue — again

Via Rick hurd | Contra Costa Times | Feb 18th, 2012

Photo via Susan Tripp Pollard/Times Staff

An Antioch police dog who is no stranger to heroics proved again Saturday that he is aptly named.

Thor, the 11-year-old Belgian Malinois, chased down a suspected car thief shortly after midnight, grabbed hold and maintained his grip as the stolen car rolled over him, police said. His partner, Officer Matt Harger, was also hit by the car, which continued moving after the suspect bailed and tried to run away. Neither Harger nor Thor were seriously injured.

“This is one heck of a resilient dog,” said Lt. John Vanderklugt of the pooch, who is quickly gaining mythic status similar to that of his Norse namesake.

Eighteen months ago, Thor took a bullet in the chest and shoulder while pursuing a burglary suspect. Three years before that, he was hit by a car on Highway 4 while chasing another suspect.

This time, Thor dropped the canine hammer on 18-year-old Douglas Martinez, of Antioch, who was arrested on suspicion of possessing a stolen vehicle, felony assault on an officer and felony assault on a police dog. He was taken to Sutter Delta Medical Center. A passenger in the stolen car has not been found.

“The courageousness you see is far beyond what you see in humans,” Vanderklugt said.

Thor's injury from gunshot earlier in 2011

The incident started around 12:35 a.m. when Harger spotted a stolen car in the 2300 block of Sycamore Drive driven by Martinez, Sgt. Scott Freier said. Harger tried to stop the vehicle to detain Martinez and his passenger, but they both jumped out of the vehicle, failing to put it in park.

Harger and Thor gave chase, with Thor eventually catching Martinez and taking him to the ground, Freier said. But the vehicle never stopped rolling, and it knocked Harger to the ground and ran over Thor.

Harger got to his feet and pulled Thor out from under the vehicle before the back tires hit Martinez or Thor, Vanderklugt said.

“He never let go of (Martinez),” Vanderklugt said of Thor. “That says it all.”

A vet gave Thor a clean bill of health. Even with three close calls in Thor’s past, retirement does not seem to be in the offing.

“Not for him,” Vanderklugt said. “He’s too special.”