MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ Trooper, a police dog, may be the next member of the city force to earn a medal for bravery after he was gashed in the chest during the arrest of a man wanted in a child-custody dispute, police say.

When an arrest warrant was issued Wednesday for Steven Todd, 19, officers were told to expect he would be armed, probably with a butcher knife. Todd was sighted late Wednesday by private security officers, who notified police.

Patrolman Luke Koerner, patrolling with Trooper, a two-year veteran, spotted Todd in a parking lot, Koerner said.''I got up close to him (with the car) and I said, 'Stop or I'll send the dog.'

''I decided to send the dog instead of pulling my gun because he (Todd) wasn't showing a weapon, but he was known to have a knife. I thought he would stop, but he refused. I warned him again but he took off, so I sent Trooper.''

The dog caught up with Todd about two blocks away and as Trooper lunged at him, Todd swung around and struck him, Koerner said. Todd ran with the dog in pursuit and was caught by backup officers.

''Then I noticed he was bleeding,'' Koerner said. ''I took out my handkerchief and tried to stop the bleeding. It looked pretty bad. I didn't know if an artery was cut or what.''

He raced Trooper to an all-night veterinary clinic, where three veins were cauterized to stop the bleeding. The vet laced Trooper with 12 stitches, and the dog was released early Thursday.

''You get attached to those little critters,'' said Koener, who has had Troper since the animal was eight weeks old. ''First they're all feet and ears, and then you see them grow into a dog who can track, search buildings, and is super with narcotics searches.''

Todd, who police said was wanted in connection with a knifepoint kidnapping in a child-custody dispute earlier this year, appeared in court Thursday on charges of kidnapping, assault and depriving another of custodial rights.

He was ordered held in $50,000 bail.

Sgt. David Dobrotka, head of the K9 unit, said he has recommended Trooper for a department award. Other dogs have been decorated in the past.