A police dog named Bruno is recovering after being shot during a parole check in Anaheim, Calif.
The 7-year-old German Shepherd had emergency surgery to remove a bullet from his lung and repair his jaw after a man began shooting at police officers on March 20. Bruno was injured after guiding officers to where Robert Moreno Jr., a known gang member, was hiding.
“The dog alerted that the suspect was hiding behind a trash can. As they went up, the suspect stood up and started shooting at the direction of the officers and purposely aimed at the dog, shooting the dog,” Anaheim Police Lt. Tim Schmidt told CBS Los Angeles.
Bruno was shot in the jaw and the bullet exited his mouth and lodged in his chest, less than an inch from his heart.
“[He was shot] point blank, it was a horrific thing to have to watch. My entire world came tumbling down in the matter of a second,” Bruno’s partner, officer RJ Young, told ABC News. Bleeding profusely, the 6-year K9 veteran barely whimpered and returned to his partner’s side. “He never made a sound.”
A police escort cleared roads to rush the injured dog to an animal hospital where surgeons worked for three hours to remove part of his damaged lung and repaired his shattered jaw.
“He’s doing extremely well for all he’s been through,” veterinarian Dr. Steve Dunbar told CBS. Bruno, who’s expected to recover, will have to wear a cast around his jaw for the next two months and was on a feeding tube, but on Sunday he ate unassisted for the first time and also went on a short walk.
Officers have praised Bruno for saving their lives after he sniffed out the 21-year-old suspect, who was killed at the scene. “If Bruno weren’t there, there’s not a doubt in my mind that someone would have gotten hurt,” Young said.
Bruno underwent a second surgery on his jaw and lung Friday at Yorba Regional Animal Hospital, during which surgeons removed his breathing tube and reattached the bottom portion of his tongue.
“The surgery went really well. Removing the tube from the lung was a big step forward,” said Young, who’s called the bond between him and Bruno “unexplainable.” “I know we have more surgeries ahead of us to reconstruct the jaw, but today was a good day for us. I just want him to heal so I can bring home.”
The Friends of the Anaheim Police K-9 Association is collecting donations to cover Bruno’s medical care through their Facebook page.