A Missouri sheriff’s deputy is hoping state legislators toughen up laws protecting police animals.

This after his K-9 partner was stabbed by a suspect while on duty.

His handler says Champ is very lucky to be alive and he’s hoping he’ll be able to return to full duty.

Champ seems happy to be back to work with the Cass County Sheriff’s Office.

His handler is just happy he’s alive.  “You hear about it happening to other dogs in big cities, but it’s not anything I ever would have thought would have happened here.”

Deputy Steve Valentich was helping Harrisonville police look for a thief near Walmart last month when he says he spotted the suspect about 80 yards away.

“I gave him several orders to stop, he turned around, saw the dog, and took off running.”

Champ took down the suspect, identified as 17 year old Zachary Wilbanks.

But Valentich heard Champ yelp  in the process.

“My heart sunk when I saw that he had been injured. I looked closer at it and it appeared to be a stab wound.”

About the only thing more shocking than the fact someone would do that to his K-9 partner, was when Calentich learned the suspect faced only a maximum of 15 days jail.

“I couldn’t believe it. It was no different than not returning a library book.”

Cass County`s Sheriff urged people to contact state legislators.

A St. Louis area lawmaker contacted WDAF saying he was filing a bill to increase the maximum sentence to a year in jail.
It’s now in committee.

In one of his first assignments today, Champ helped try to track down of all people, a suspected stabber outside Advanced Auto Parts.

Valentich says Champ will need re-training before deciding if he’s able to take down a suspect, or will be forced to retire.
“He seems eager to get put back in that situation, but we won’t know what happens until we get in that situation again.”

One person deputies need to find again… Zachary Wilbanks.

He was initially able to get out of jail on merely a signature bond, then didn’t show up for court.

Since Wilbanks is only charged with misdemeanors under current law, even after failing to appear, his bond still wouldn’t be that hard to post if he turns himself in. He would need $400.