One Las Vegas police dog was killed and another was hospitalized Tuesday after they were stung by a swarm of killer bees at their handler’s home in the northwest valley.
Four dogs, Mickey, Roy, Rockey and Kai, were swarmed by bees at the home of Officer Mel English, near Iron Mountain Road and Durango Road, just after 5 a.m.
English was reading early Tuesday morning when he heard the dogs barking in their kennels. When he ran outside to check he was attacked by the bees, he said.
“I threw on a sweat jacket and stuff, and ran out there and started getting (the dogs) out as fast as I could,” English said.
Mickey was stung the most times, he said, and later died. The 11-year-old Belgian Malinois patrol dog had been paired with English since 2005. Mickey was retired in March and was replaced by Roy, who was treated by a veterinarian Tuesday afternoon.
English said Roy, 4, “looked normal” about 4 p.m. He will be held overnight for observation, however.
“He’s acting like himself,” he said.
Kai and Rockey, a pair of Springer Spaniel bomb dogs, will be OK, English said.
Kai, 15, was retired four years ago. Rockey, who has been with English since 2001, is still working with Metro, he said.
English said he had no warning.
“It’s surreal… to walk outside, staring at this cloud of bees, and realize they’re attacking my dogs,” English said. “The next thing you know, you’re in it.”
English was hired by Metro in 1992 and had been assigned to the K-9 unit since 1997. He pulled about 15 stingers from his own legs in the shower hours later, he said.
“Other than just feeling numb in the lips and the hands, not that big of a deal,” he said.
English said Mickey was a patrol dog for almost nine years and described him as “kind of a boss.”
“He was a little bit of a one-man dog most of his life. Later in life, his last couple years, he started to enjoy people,” English said. “He had just a great personality. For a big dog, he was very agile. He ran hard.”
At 92 pounds — big for his breed — Mickey was an imposing patrol dog, he said.
He loved two things: Running down a suspect and eating grass.
“That dog ate grass like he was a cow,” English said.
English said Mickey’s water bowl was covered in dead bees. The swarm was a constant problem in the neighborhood, English said, even resulting in school lockdowns.
But the hive was discovered in a neighbor’s yard Tuesday morning and the swarm would likely be exterminated after sundown on Tuesday, after the bees returned to their nest, he said.
“I won’t be much of a bee fan for awhile,” English said.
Las Vegas Fire Department spokesman Tim Szymanski said city firefighters didn’t respond to Tuesday’s attack but noted that bee attacks farther north in the valley are not uncommon this time of year.
Bees live naturally in the Lone Mountain area, he said. Five people were hospitalized for stings last week in that area.
Many rural homes used to keep bees, intending to produce honey or pollinate plants. That has since been outlawed, but migrating bee swarms will often stop and rest in old hives.
“It’s like a Motel 6 to them,” Szymanski said.
Bees will defend themselves by “head-butting” as a warning, Szymanski said. If you don’t back off — and the dogs probably didn’t realize they should — the bees will start stinging, said.
If the bees come back to English’s home, the other dogs will be safe. English said his other dogs would be housed at Metro kennels until the bees were gone.
“Until I know they’re safe, they won’t be going home,” he said.