Dog found inside backseat of stolen truck after police chase

SAN DIEGO – An auto-theft suspect driving an allegedly stolen truck led police Thursday on a chase from National City to Encanto, where officers forced the pickup to a halt and arrested him with help from a service dog.

The pursuit began in the area of Euclid Avenue and Plaza Boulevard about 4 p.m., authorities said.

San Diego and National City police chased the man over various roads for about a half-hour before the truck ran over a tire-flattening spike strip that officers had laid in its path at 65th Street and Wunderlin Avenue, SDPD Officer Tony Martinez said.

The suspect continued to the south and west for a short time, driving on two rims now covered only with tatters of rubber, then pulled to a stop on Fergus Street, near Imperial Avenue.

Though surrounded and boxed in, the man refused to surrender for several minutes, until officers used multiple rounds of pepper balls and released a police dog named Marco that leaped onto him and dragged him to the pavement.

Officers then swarmed the suspect and took him into custody before he was transported to a hospital to be treated for bite injuries to his arm. His name was not immediately available.

National City police said pepper balls were used when the suspect would not listen to police orders to get out of the truck.

A grey pit bull was found in the backseat of the truck. Animal control officers took the dog into their care.

"We’re just going to have him checked out due to the pepper spray make sure he doesn’t have the effects of that, he’s a nice dog, he’s just scared," said Officer Brown with Animal Control.

A woman claiming to be the dog's owner showed up and asked to take it home, but the animal services officers told her they needed to first take him to be medically evaluated.