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GREENSBORO, N.C. — The University of North Carolina at Greensboro Police Department is coming to the aid of one of their own.

“Of course she has been a part of our family, to us she is an officer,” UNCG Police Chief Paul Lester said. “She does incredible work and represents the department exactly like we would expect all of our officers to.”

Lester is describing Tinkerbell, or Tink for short. Tink is a K-9 with UNCG police. Over her seven-year career, Tink has tracked lost people, found illegal drugs and is a favorite at a number of community outreach events.

“A lot of people love dogs,” Lester said. “If you are a dog lover and fascinated by what K-9s can do, I think that draws a lot of people in and appreciate the K-9 unit.”

To stay sharp, K-9s have to pass a yearly test. But at the end of the test, Tink was having a hard time catching her breath. X-rays showed a hole in Tink’s lung. This past weekend, Tink was admitted to the animal hospital. Vets then began the long surgery to repair the hole on Tuesday morning. Lester has been in contact with Tink’s handler.

“We are very positive and optimistic and hope it goes well and she comes out of the surgery as good as she was before,” Lester said.

UNCG’s K-9 budget is dedicated to Tinkerbell’s surgery and recovery. But they are a small department and the money will not cover the soaring medical cost. So Tink’s handler, Officer Austin, created a GoFundMe web page. Lester believes the public will help cover the expensive medical bills.

“We are grateful for the community support,” Lester said. “I think it reflects the impact Tink has had in the community.”

If the recovery goes smoothly, Tinkerbell will be able to return to service.