Bruno is a fellow officer, a partner and a friend. This was how Officer R. J. Young of the Anaheim Police Department regarded Bruno, a German shepherd police dog. And seeing Bruno seriously injured after getting shot at close range was too much for Young to bear.
It happened during one of the SWAT team’s operations on March 20, 2014. The team responded to a call for backup in one of the neighborhoods in Anaheim. Bruno gave chase and cornered the suspect hiding behind a trash bin. The other officers came in and the armed suspect fired at them hitting Bruno in the face.
The bullet ripped Bruno’s jaw. He was bleeding profusely when he drew back to his partner’s side. But like a good police officer, he neither whimpered nor made a sound.
Bruno was rushed to the hospital. He was barely alive when the team reached the emergency room. Bruno endured long hours of surgery. The bullet went right through his face, exited through the lower jaw, and pierced him right back through the chest cavity.
It narrowly missed his heart, but did hit his lung. A part of his lung is permanently impaired, and the bullet remained there. The surgeons decided to forgo removing the slug owing to the trauma of the surgery.
Bruno’s fellow officers realized that for the 12 to 18-hour period that ensued, Bruno’s life was in peril. All they could do was wait. Young was devastated and saw his world crumbling around him. Bruno had always been there for him and the team, and he realized that anything could happen to his best friend at that moment.
Meanwhile, Lt. Tim Schmidt said that Bruno did his job as a police officer and that his bravery saved the lives of three fellow police officers who were with him at the time of the rampage.
Captain Mark Cyprien called Bruno a hero.
To everyone’s relief, the seven-year-old police dog survived the critical period. During his recuperation, his human partner was there and even donned scrubs to spend nights with him at the hospital. The community showed its concern, too.
The German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County organized a pack walk participated by citizens and dogs to honor Bruno’s deeds. The Friends of the Anaheim Police K9 Association also rallied behind to help raise funds to address Bruno’s bills.
Bruno must have understood all the love and concern that came his way. In spite of the trauma that he went through, he recovered. Bruno retired two months after that fateful day, and was adopted by the Young family.
He became a national celebrity and his story didn’t end with retirement. He even had well-wishers coming from other countries. A Bruno-inspired bronze statue was unveiled in Anaheim to honor this hometown hero and all police dogs that have served the city.
This week, however, we are saddened to announce his death. He succumbed to complications as a result of his injury two years ago. On Wednesday this week, May 18, 2016, Bruno died. He was 10 years old.
He spent 6 years in active service. His career highlights include helping recover $3 million worth of narcotics. Moments before his death, he took his last Anaheim K9 patrol car ride. There, he took his last breath, too.