Scott G. Winterton, Deseret Morning News
Sheriff's deputy Cory Wride talks about how his canine partner, Dex, fell 11 feet onto a hard concrete floor, fracturing his left front leg. Dex's injuries required two surgeries.

PROVO — Cats may have nine lives, but dogs are pretty resilient, too.

Case in point: Dex, a police-trained dog owned by the Utah County Sheriff's Department, suffered a serious fall last week in the line of duty.

Dex took quite a tumble but is expected to rebound quickly after taking some time off to, well, lick his wounds.

"We expect that he'll be headed back to work . . . but he's going to be out of action for a while," said sheriff's deputy Cory Wride, who has handled the Belgian Malinois for eight months.

On Wednesday, Dex and his deputy partner answered a call to help parole officers locate and apprehend a person who was considered by police to be armed and dangerous.

The pair were sent to look in an abandoned home in Provo where the suspect had allegedly fled, although he was later arrested at a nearby family residence.

As officers searched the ground level for the suspect, Wride said they came upon a crawl space that appeared to have been recently opened.

With his gifted nose and smaller stature, Dex was the obvious choice to explore the attic.

Unsuccessful in finding anything, the 7-year-old dog started back toward the opening when the ceiling began to collapse around him.

Though he tried to maneuver through the wreckage, the floor gave way before Dex could make it back. The dog dropped 11 feet to the hard concrete floor of a garage below.

"He came down awkward and landed on the side of his mouth," Wride remembered. "He was pretty vocal about his pain, but when I got over to him he seemed to calm down."

Dex sustained a fracture to one canine tooth and six fractures to his left front leg. His injuries required two surgeries. He now has 10 screws, two plates and 24 staples in his elbow.

"Dex has been a real trooper about all of this," said Wride's wife, Nannette.

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After spending a few days at an Orem pet hospital, Dex returned home to Wride's Spanish Fork home. That arrangement is typical of K-9 dogs, who receive years of training.

However, the dogs' first priority is always the safety of their human counterparts, Wride said.

"He's invaluable," Wride said. "If it wasn't for Dex, one of us would have had to go up into that crawl space."

Utah County Sheriff Sgt. Dennis Harris said Dex won't be allowed to return to duty for at least 12 more weeks. Wride's wife said the couple's children dote on the dog.

"I realized how close we were the other night when he got hurt," Wride said. "I probably shouldn't use this analogy, but it was like having a child fall through the ceiling."