While many dogs are loyal, K9s take that loyalty to another level. Their bond with their handlers is forged through countless hours of training and responding to high-stakes situations, making them ready to leap into even the most dangerous situations because their human partners have asked them to.
In turn, those elite dogs require dedication and help with matters that are out of their paws, like medical bills that arise when they are injured on the job.
Thankfully, there are groups whose purpose is to recognize and raise funds for these canine heroes, as well as provide training and materials in order to preemptively minimize their injuries in the line of work.
Two K9s with the Volusia Sheriff’s Office in Florida were recognized on Nov. 17 for their heroic deeds two months prior during a police chase.
On Sept. 11, K9 Ax was shot in the side of the face while following a suspect into the woods. Two hours later, K9 Endo was shot in the paw and lower jaw when the suspect ran out of the woods.
Sheriff Mike Chitwood said that there was “no doubt” the two K9s “took bullets that were meant for my deputies,” according to Fox News.
As soon as they heard about the incident, a group called Irondog K9 International reached out to Chitwood with an offer of assistance.
“Since its inception, Irondog K9 International has enabled advanced training to numerous law enforcement K9 teams around the U.S.,” the group states on its Facebook page. “It has issued handling and training gear, as well as human-grade canine first aid kits. And, it has funded medical bills for injured K9s serving and protecting your neighborhoods.”
And they extended that offer to Ax and Endo — and the entire sheriff’s department.
“It was this incredible, heartwarming email saying that whatever your organization needs, whatever Endo and Ax need, we got you,” Sheriff Chitwood recalled, according to a post by the Volusia Sheriff’s Office. “We got medical bills, we got training — you tell us what you want.”
The organization ended up covering around $4,000 in medical bills, but also provided $4,200 worth of first aid kits as well as 3-day K9 medic courses for every K9 handler at the sheriff’s office, a service coming in at around $18,000.
The two noble dogs have recovered well since their encounter, and it was high time to recognize their heroics.
“This morning, Sheriff Mike Chitwood and the Georgia non-profit organization Irondog K9 International honored K-9s Endo and Ax for their actions responding to an armed carjacking incident in Deltona in September,” the Volusia Sheriff Office’s post read. “Endo and Ax were each shot while working to apprehend the fleeing suspect.”
“Both K-9s received the Purple Heart from the Sheriff’s Office and a Medal of Honor from Irondog K9. The Purple Heart is K-9 Endo’s second since 2016, when he was shot in the neck while responding to a domestic disturbance call.”
Mitzi Nash with Irondog K9 International said they were happy to help and be able to recognize Ax and Endo.
“Our job is to support these law enforcement K-9s and their handlers, and we are so excited to be able to be here for them,” Nash said.
According to Fox News, Endo has spent almost 10 years serving the Volusia Sheriff’s Office, and is retiring — and what better way to celebrate a job well done and a life well-lived than with a second Purple Heart?
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