JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office K-9 shot in the line of duty Friday is expected to survive. A leader from local nonprofit K9s United, which advocates for K-9 law enforcement officers, said Saturday the outcome could have been very different if not for the quick actions of first responders at the scene and the veterinary staff who treated K-9 Huk.
Videos and pictures show first responders quickly rushing Huk in a helicopter to a veterinary hospital in Jacksonville Beach moments after he was shot three times on Friday.
“The veterinarian’s office was right there ready and waiting so the circumstances for Huk could not have been any better,” said K9s United Vice President Jay Nix.
The situation Friday began when JSO responded to a shots fired call near Commonwealth Avenue and Division Street. Police spotted the suspects’ car and exchanged gunfire on West 45th Street, according to JSO. That led to a chase that ended in a car crash on Busch Drive near the Jacksonville Zoo.
The suspects’ car ended up along the fence line of the zoo, and when the three people in the car refused to come out, K-9 Huk was released into the car and someone shot him, police said.
Nix said a new Florida law that the nonprofit helped pass allows several first responders to take immediate action when a police dog is injured. News4JAX got an inside look at the training earlier this year.
“We started providing medical training to both law enforcement, K9 handlers, as well as emergency medical professionals. So firefighters, EMT, paramedics, because they’re the ones that are going to arrive on scene immediately,” said Nix.
Nix said the videos of Huk’s transport show how the new law likely played a part in Huk’s care.
“I do attribute that not only the training Huk’s handler has received in the past, but as well as the medical professionals that were on scene, the veterinarian staff, everybody did everything that they possibly could and I really do believe that’s one of the reason’s why Huk is with us today,” said Nix.
JSO said three people were inside the car; one surrendered and two others died. It’s unclear if they died from injuries sustained in the car crash or from police gunfire.
Another law passed in 2019, upgraded penalties for injuring or shooting a police dog. This came after JSO K-9 Fang’s 2018 death.
“It was a third-degree felony and then that law changed, which K9s United was the driving force behind to get that law changed, and now it’s a second-degree felony,” said Nix. “A second-degree felony in the state of Florida, for this particular crime could put you in prison for up to 15 years with a $15,000 fine.”
At this time, it’s unclear who pulled the trigger to shoot Huk. But Nix said it won’t necessarily matter if the suspect who survived is the one who fired the shots.
“If you are a contributing factor to that crime being committed, you can also be charged for that crime,” said Nix.
Huk has helped capture several wanted men, including Patrick McDowell, the man accused of killing Nassau County Deputy Joshua Moyers. The Nassau County Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook that Huk is special to their agency because of his role in capturing McDowell and that their thoughts and prayers are with him.
Nix said K9s United is working to pass Florida’s new K-9 laws on a federal level.
For more information about K9s United, go to https://www.k9sunited.org/.