CLEVELAND, Tenn. (WATE) — A K9 with the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office is undergoing surgery after being shot in the line of duty on Wednesday morning.

According to the sheriff’s office, law enforcement responded to an auto burglary at an apartment complex on Harrison Pike in Cleveland at around 2 a.m. When they arrived, officers saw a white Jeep Gladiator fleeing the scene. Deputies with Bradley County made contact and attempted to stop the then confirmed stolen vehicle.

The suspects fled on foot into the woods around Toyota of Cleveland near Exit 20. K9 Joker was deployed by Deputy Eduardo Choate. The K9 made contact with the suspect and was shot multiple times. K9 Joker was immediately taken to an emergency animal hospital for surgery due to his life-threatening injuries. Deputy Choate was unharmed during the incident.

The BCSO SWAT Team was activated to keep the suspects within the area until taken into custody. Shortly after, a 2009 four-door Blue Silver Lexus with no tag and a loud muffler was stolen from the Withrow Road area and headed towards Chattanooga.

A witness told deputies there were four males in the vehicle. They’re considered to be armed and dangerous. The investigation remains ongoing.

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