WASHINGTON -- A few years on the job have been tough on this guy: Blu, a 3-year-old award-winning Metro Transit patrol dog, is now suffering from cracked teeth, and needs three root canals and four crowns.
The hitch is that D.C.'s public transportation authority won't pay for the dental work -- and they've told Blu's handler, 13-year Metro Transit Police veteran Steve Morrison, that the dog needs to be treated within two weeks to keep his position.
"I don't want to say that they don't care, but they do know that the dog is in pain," Morrison's wife, Christine Morrison, told My Fox DC. "He's one of the best tacking dogs the department has ever had...He fully understands what his job is and he will protect my husband, which is what their ultimate job is.”
Patrol dog Blu with his awards (story continues below):
Metro issued a statement to Fox:
The transit police department has a diminished need for patrol dogs. When an existing patrol dog is no longer able to fulfill its duties, the dog is allowed to retire and the position is eliminated. This is in contrast with bomb-detecting EOD K9s, which is a unit that has expanded significantly in recent years.
HuffPost reached out to Metro to ask how many patrol dogs are currently in service, and why the agency's working dogs aren't insured. We'll update this post with any new information.
Meantime, something to wag your tail about: An Indiegogo online crowdsourcing campaign launched Thursday has already raised several thousand dollars more than is necessary to cover Blu's dental procedures.
Christine Morrison tells HuffPost that Blu, who lives with the family, has his dental work scheduled for Nov. 14. "After the procedure he will be able to perform his duties pain free and much happier partner," she said by email to HuffPost.
The Morrisons said they will use any extra money to pay for other Metro K9 units' medical needs.
"The funds will go into some type of account for the other patrol dogs on the department who may need medical care in the future that the department is not willing to cover," Christine Morrison wrote in her email.
This story was updated with quotes from Christine Morrison on Nov. 8 at 5:30 p.m.