Hero police dog survives shot to the face while catching suspect

While Bruno was in surgery, his human partner donned scrubs and spent the night by the dog’s side. (Photo credit: Anaheim PD Twitter)

The community of Anaheim, Calif., is rallying around their beloved police K9 officer, Bruno, after the brave German Shepherd was shot in the face last Thursday during the apprehension of a criminal.

Around 1:45 Thursday afternoon, two probation officers approached an Anaheim residence hoping to make a parole check. Suddenly, shots rang out, with one man shooting at the officers from inside of a vehicle while the second took off running, CBS Los Angeles reports.

The officers called for backup, and Bruno arrived with his handler and a SWAT team moments later. Bruno joined SWAT team members in a search for the suspects, finally leading them to one of the gunmen, who was hiding in a nearby trashcan.

As the team approached the trashcan, the gunman fired at the officers, a bullet striking Bruno in the jaw. Officers returned fire, killing the suspect, 22-year-old Robert Moreno, Jr. As of Monday morning, another suspect remains at large.

From the scene of the shootout, a badly injured but still breathing Bruno was rushed to an emergency veterinary office for treatment.

Thursday night, veterinarians performed emergency surgery to remove the bullet, which police say traveled through the dog’s jaw and became lodged in Bruno’s lung, stopping a mere inch from Bruno’s heart. Bruno’s human partner, Officer R.J. Young, put on scrubs and stayed with him throughout the night while he recovered from his surgery.

“The impact on him — that dog is like a child to his family,” Lt. Schmidt told the Los Angeles Times of Officer Young and the bond he shares with his four-legged partner. “He is devastated by it.”

The Anaheim Police Department praised Bruno and Bruno’s veterinary team in a post on the department blog Friday.

“He’s a tough dog who did his job well yesterday,” Anaheim Police Captain Mark Cyprien says of Bruno. “He’s a hero.”

“His vital signs were stable. The next 18 hours are crucial. The hospital did an amazing job,” says Captain. Bob Conklin.

For Anaheim Police Department Lieutenant Tim Schmidt, Bruno — a 6-year veteran of the department — is nothing short of a hero.

“There’s no doubt that this dog saved three officers and was able to identify the gunman…this shooting occurred just within feet,” Lt. Schmidt tells KTLA.

Saturday morning, community members held a special “pack walk” in honor of Bruno, dozens of Anaheim area citizens and their dogs coming out to march just around the corner from the animal hospital where Bruno lie sedated and healing after the shooting and his life-saving surgery. The event was organized by the German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County.

Young says he is touched by all of the community support he and Bruno have received during this difficult time.

“Bruno is doing good, he’s a fighter,” Officer Young tells NBC Los Angeles of his partner and best friend. “All I ask is that you continue to keep him in your prayers for me, and we’ll get him through this tough time.”

Veterinarians say Bruno is expected to make a full recovery, but will need to remain at the hospital for observation and rehabilitation for the next six weeks. His veterinary bills are expected to total well into the thousands, so the Friends of the Anaheim Police K9 Association, a nonprofit organization, is raising funds to help cover Bruno’s care. Donations are being accepted on PayPal or by snail mail. Visit the Friends of the Anaheim Police K9 Association Facebook page for more information.

Sources: CBS Los Angeles, Los Angeles Times, KTLA, Anaheim Police Department Behind the Badge Blog, NBC Los Angeles

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