By Jennifer O’Connor, CNN
WASHINGTON (CNN) — A New York police dog is being praised while still struggling with his mental illness.
The dog — named Biff — went missing Thursday night as he patrolled inside a Queens home when he was accidentally shot in the head, said Officer Daniel St. Claire at the Nassau County Police Department.
Biff was recovering Thursday from a “very serious” injury to his head after police shot him, St. Claire said.
“He’s in our thoughts and prayers while he’s recovering,” he said.
An employee at the home called 911 about 9:30 p.m. Thursday to report the shooting and when officers arrived “the suspect was standing in the doorway with a handgun,” St. Claire said.
The officer said Biff was “visibly agitated,” and when Biff failed to respond to commands, he opened fire, striking Biff in the head. Biff was taken to the hospital. Doctors removed a bullet from the dog’s head but he was still breathing when he was taken off the operating table Thursday night.
“I’ve got a feeling that he’s OK, and I really hope so, and I know he’s getting some help,” said John “Pops” Pizzella, a dog owner who witnessed the scene.
Biff’s new owner, Joe O’Connor, said he was heartbroken at the news of Biff’s shooting.
O’Connor said the dog was shot in the chest and head when he tried to intervene.
“I told Biff, `Get on the ground!’ He came at me and just started biting my hand. Then I had to grab his muzzle with both of my hands and pull him off of me,” O’Connor said.
Biff is a police service Labrador and O’Connor said he was “a trooper” with the department.
“He seemed to really want to help. He never stopped barking, never stopped going for treats,” O’Connor said. “Now, he’s getting help, and I’m hoping that is to keep him in there and not give people another reason.”
Biff, who has been with authorities for two years, was working for a private security company and had to be released from service, St. Claire said.
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