LAYTON -- Mojo's canine teeth are his hands when he works. Without them, Mojo wouldn't be able to catch suspects like he has the past four years. He would be able only to sniff out narcotics and help with patrol, say the deputies who work with him.
That is why dentist Scott J. Neil agreed to put on four gold crowns and do a root canal on the Dutch shepherd that has been with the Davis County Sheriff's Office since 2009.
Mojo's dental work was done early Thursday morning, and the patient surprised a few clients in the waiting room as he left the building.
He will be back to work Monday, said Davis County Sheriff's Deputy Jeremy Verela.
"Without his canine (teeth), he won't be able to apprehend the bad guys," said Dr. Justin Manning, the veterinarian who cares for the county's five police dogs.
Verela said Mojo's new handler, Deputy Steven Sanford, got the dog about two weeks ago, saw Mojo's teeth had worn down and took him to Manning for a checkup.
Manning said a dog's canine teeth are generally three-fourths of an inch long, but Mojo's were just a fourth of an inch long.
The dog has been anxiously chewing on everything, wearing down his teeth. He also got an infection in one of the canine teeth.
Manning recommended Neil, usually a dentist to humans, to do the job, although Neil said this is the first time he has worked on canine teeth on a dog.
Neil and his wife, Dr. Rachelle M. Neil, own Summit Dental in Layton and every month do a community service project, such as going to schools to do dental work on students.
Neil said crowns normally cost between $600 and $1,000 apiece, but he is charging the county only $300 for each gold crown to cover the costs of the material.
Camille Smith, Summit Dental's business assistant, said gold crowns can withstand the heavy pressure that a dog will put on them better than porcelain, which would crack.
Normally, when dogs wear down their teeth like Mojo did, the teeth are pulled if there is an infection, Manning said,
But Mojo needs his teeth to work.
"He could grab (a suspect), but he couldn't hold onto the perp," Manning said.
Mojo came into the office a week ago for prep work. For humans, that prep work takes about 30 minutes to two hours, Neil said. Mojo spent 20 minutes in the office.
Mojo, who sniffed out $50,000 worth of marijuana during a traffic stop on Interstate 15 last year, was put under anesthesia during the 90-minute procedure Thursday.
Manning stayed in the room just in case Mojo had a problem.
Deputies Sanford and Verela watched the proceedings from near the door.
Putting crowns on a dog's canine teeth is easier than putting them on a human, Neil said. With a human, dentists have to work to make the crowns fit. With Mojo, Neil was able to just put on the crowns.
When the deputies saw the results, gold teeth reflecting the light, Verela said, "He's going to be a force."