A Yakima police officer was bitten by a K-9 dog when he tried to apprehend a fleeing car theft suspect Saturday afternoon.

A Yakima officer spotted a vehicle that was reported stolen around 5:30 p.m. and the suspect got out of the car and began running, Sgt. Ira Cavin said. Officers set up a perimeter around St. Joseph’s church and school and were preparing to send in police dog Zorro when a sheriff’s deputy spotted the suspect in an alley behind the school, Cavin said.

Officers, with weapons drawn, chased the suspect across the parking lot between the school and the church, where the suspect tried to get in another car, Cavin said. The suspect began running toward Lincoln Avenue when Zorro was let loose, Cavin said.

At that time, a Yakima officer tried to grab the suspect as he crossed the road and was bitten by the dog, Cavin said. The officer, whose name has not been released, was taken to a local hospital for treatment.

The suspect was arrested on suspicion of possessing a stolen motor vehicle and trying to steal another motor vehicle, Cavin said.

Zorro acted has he was trained, Cavin said, and went for the person he believed was the threat. Officers, he said, are instructed to stay in their vehicles when a dog is deployed to avoid that kind of situation.

Reach Donald W. Meyers at dmeyers@yakimaherald.com or on Twitter: donaldwmeyers, or https://www.facebook.com/donaldwmeyersjournalist.