By Kelsie Donaldson on December 01, 2022

When Grand Rapids Police K9 officer, Eli, was stabbed eight times during a confrontation with a suspect, he was rushed to Animal Emergency Hospital, where MSU alum Dr. Samantha Barscewski spent over two hours in the operating room repairing the numerous stab wounds.

Samantha Barscewski (DVM ’17) recounts her experience working to save Eli


Eli is a six-year-old Belgian Malinois who is a K9 for the Grand Rapids Police Department. He was stabbed while trying to bring a suspect down who was involved in a standoff with police; I believe the standoff was several hours long, and the suspect fired at the police at one point.

Eli sustained eight deep stab wounds into the left side of his body. The largest wound penetrated his chest cavity, leading to extensive hemorrhage and a pneumothorax (or collapsed lung). He was rushed to our hospital, where I was on the overnight shift. We were able to stabilize him and rush him into surgery, where we repaired his stab wounds (including the deep chest wall wound), gave him a blood transfusion, and placed bilateral chest tubes to allow for continued drainage of air and blood from his chest cavity.

He was hospitalized with us for three days, where he was treated for pain, received an additional blood transfusion, and monitored for any continued issues with his lungs. He did fantastically and recovered better than we could have hoped for or expected! He is back home and recovering with his handler; it hasn't been decided yet if he will retire or return to work.

Animal Emergency Hospital provides a Facebook update

Last week, we had K-9 Officer Eli in for staple removal after previously having emergency surgery on multiple stab wounds. He is recovering well! Eli is eager to be done with rest and recovery. He had over 50 staples removed by Dr. Lyndi Keizer. He also received many treats and attention from the rest of our staff. (See the post.)

Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom thanks Barscewski and the staff at Animal Emergency Hospital


On behalf of Officer Kribs, the K9 Unit, and all the men and women of the Grand Rapids Police Department, I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of support, prayers, and well wishes. We received hundreds of messages from the community, other law enforcement agencies, and K9 support organizations across the country. We are extremely grateful to the veterinarians and staff of the Animal Emergency Hospital for their expertise and care. With the severity of his injuries and the significant blood loss he experienced, it is truly a miracle they were able to save Eli. (See full quote.)

Read more and see additional photos in the Grand Rapids local news.