A North Carolina deputy credited his long recovery from injuries sustained in the line of duty on February 4, 2021, to the unwavering emotional support of his police K-9.
On that fateful day last year, Nash County Deputy William Toney was called to assist Deputy Shelby Smith on a traffic stop on I-95. When Toney attempted to frisk the driver, he was shot four times with a semiautomatic pistol — twice in his right arm, once in his left arm and once in his right hip. Smith fired back at the shooter, disabling him.
Although Toney, 49, now lives with chronic pain, he is getting by with the unconditional support of his retired K-9 Chase.
Chase, a 7-year-old German shepherd-Belgian Malinois mix, was retired following his handler’s shooting at the request of Sheriff Keith Stone and a unanimous vote by the Nash County Board of Commissioners. They also decided to leave the dog in Toney’s care.
Chase was in Toney’s patrol vehicle on the day he was wounded.
It has been a transition period for both Toney and Chase, who both miss working in law enforcement.
“It’s kind of hard for the working dog to be a pet,” Toney said, adding that he still works on training drills with Chase to lift the dog’s spirits as well as his own.
When Toney brought Chase to the Nashville’s Sheriff’s Office for a photoshoot, the K-9 showed his excitement and joy to be back on the job, if only for a short while.
“Throughout his career Chase has been credited with detecting narcotics and apprehending criminals. Additionally, K-9 Chase has performed numerous demonstrations for the public and schools to educate on the functions and abilities of the Nash County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit,” Stone told the Board of Commissioners.
Toney and Chase’s relationship has come a long way.
“Our working relationship was a love–hate relationship in the beginning,” Toney recalled. “He wanted to be the boss. But I knew I had to be the boss. It’s important that a working dog has a leader. But through a lot of work, dedication and affection and loving each other, we developed a bond where he would do anything to make sure I’m OK.”
The pair is still there for each other to this day. Toney said Chase has given him critical emotional support.
“We’re inseparable now,” Toney said. “He’s definitely helped me through my injuries. He’s a therapy dog. He’s been really good for me. He picks me up on days when I’m not feeling my best or not being the person who he is used to being around. He keys in on that and he acts silly like he wants to get in my lap (Chase is much too large for that).”
Toney underwent multiple surgeries following the shooting, and he still has a bullet lodged in his arm. He also had the radius in his right arm replaced with a metal rod. “There is so much I can’t do now,” he said, noting that he has to take a test every month to determine his abilities and limitations.
It’s not likely that Toney will be able to return to active duty.
Toney said he forgives the shooter, who also survived the shooting. “Under the circumstances, I feel like God has a plan for all three of us,” he said.