Police K-9 on the Mend After Falling Through Ceiling

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    Northern Virginia bureau reporter David Culver reports on Kota, the police dog injured on duty earlier this week. (Published Friday, Jan. 10, 2014)

    A Winchester, Va. police dog, recovering from an injury, is gaining support from around the world.

    Dakota, or "Kota" as his handler Winchester Police Cpl. Brittney Kotynski-Neer calls him, underwent leg surgery after falling through a crawl space earlier this month. Kotynski-Neer responded to a home burglary and Kota tracked down two suspects in the home's crawl space which proved too thin for his weight.

    "We heard a loud crash, which subsequently was him falling through the ceiling," Kotynski-Neer said.

    She could hear his painful yelps.

    "It's hard ... to hear those yelps and not be able to go to them, it's crazy," Kotynski-Neer said.

    Despite his injury, Kota managed to hobble back up the stairs to make sure his handler was alright.

    "I had turned around and Kota was standing there,” Kotynski-Neer remembered.

    After Kotynski-Neer and another officer took the suspects into custody, they carried Kota to a police cruiser and drove him to an animal hospital.

    Well-wishes from around the world are helping with the recovery -- a Facebook page posted a few days ago already has more than 20,000 “likes,"

    Gifts have arrived as well, including a superhero cape from some local students.

    "They were like, ‘every hero needs a cape,’" Kotynski-Neer said. "It really does restore your faith in humanity."

    It’s not clear if Kota will recover enough to return to patrol duty.