JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – A Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office K-9 shot in the line of duty Friday is recovering. Veterinarians said Monday that they are trying to close a wound in his neck.
First Coast Veterinary Specialists shared photos of JSO K-9 Huk, who has been in its care since Friday afternoon when he was wounded in a shootout after a police chase on Jacksonville’s Northside. Two suspects were killed.
It was a dramatic scene as the police helicopter landed in Jacksonville Beach. First responders flew the dog across the county, rushing Huk to the emergency vet with three gunshot wounds — bullets in his neck, hind and wrist.
K-9 handlers believe training and smart thinking saved the dog’s life.
Huk is a member of JSO’s SWAT team. He helped take down the man accused of killing Nassau County Deputy Joshua Moyers last year. In the spring, video captured Huk biting an accused armed hostage taker on the Southside.
“Sadly, it’s not an isolated incident. It’s that’s something that, you know, unfortunately, a lot of K-9 handlers across this country had to deal with,” said Sgt. Jay Nix, a K-9 handler and vice president of K9s United, an organization that works to protect police dogs and their partners — knowing they have among the most dangerous jobs on the street.
News4JAX asked what goes into the decision to release a police K-9 into a dangerous situation.
“These guys have to think on their feet, they have to think and spur the moment. So many times, those moments are criticized by people the following day when they’re not under that pressure and they’re not under the microscope,” Nix said. “They’re in the heat of that moment where you have to make split-second decisions, and that’s where that training kicks in.”
Just months ago, News4JAX went to K9s United training with several local agencies, including JSO. An instructor taught tactics and emergency wound care.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the officers on scene and that, you know, they provided a great, a great service to Huk — and all the support staff from aviation all the way down to the veterinarian office that is taking care of him,” said Matthew Casey, a police trainer.
Casey said that some of the officers involved in Friday’s incident took his class and that their response could have saved Huk’s life.
“This is why I do it,” Casey said. “It just makes me a happy person and lets me know that, you know, lives are being saved, whether they are two-legged lives or four-legged lives, it’s all part of one team, one mission, and it makes me feel good.”
K9s United was founded in 2015 in North Florida after K-9 Baron was killed. To provide more training and safety equipment to protect service dogs, the nonprofit is raising money by selling specialty Florida license plates. You can preorder them at K9s United.org.
On Monday, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry sent a message to Huk and his handler, thanking the police K-9 for his courage and service to the community and wishing him a speedy recovery.
“Time and time again, you have put your own comfort and safety on hold in an attempt to protect and serve the people of Jacksonville,” Curry wrote. “That sacrifice cannot be understated, and Jacksonville is incredibly fortunate to be protected by such a selfless and dedicated unit of human and canine heroes.”
Paws up for Huk & his handler! Your continued sacrifice cannot be understated, and #Jax is incredibly fortunate to be protected by such a selfless & dedicated group of human and K9 heroes! Thank you for your commitment to safety and our community! @JSOPIO @CityofJax pic.twitter.com/aSyFuA1cEf— Lenny Curry (@lennycurry) July 25, 2022
At last check, Huk remained at First Coast Veterinary Specialists, where the team said he’s got a long recovery ahead, but he’s doing well and in good spirits
News4JAX reached out to the vet and JSO for an interview and has not heard back.