A K-9 officer is recovering and “all smiles” after suffering three gunshot wounds during a police pursuit near the Jacksonville Zoo on Friday.
The K-9, Huk, was shot in “the neck, hind end, and the carpus (wrist)” and will require multiple surgeries but is currently “resting comfortably” on pain medication.
First Coast Veterinary Specialists, P.A. provided an update on his recovery:
Look who is all smiles this evening! Huk is rallying with his community.
His evening update: Huk sustained 3 penetrating gun shot wounds; soft tissue injuries to the neck, hind end, and the carpus (wrist) with orthopedic injuries as well. One of his 3 wounds was able to be closed today.
He will need multiple procedures as he recovers but as of this evening he is eating and resting comfortably on his pain medications.
Before Huk was injured, police were involved in a standoff between three suspects, who were allegedly involved in an incident where gunshots were heard before 2:00 p.m., News4JAX reported.
Authorities then located a vehicle that matched the suspect’s description and engaged in a shootout with the suspects at West 45th Street. No officers were harmed in that shootout, the local outlet noted.
The suspects then entered the vehicle, and a police pursuit ensued that ended in a crash with another vehicle at the intersection on Bush Driveway near the Jacksonville Zoo.
There continues to be an active search for an armed suspect in the area of Busch Drive and Zoo Parkway. We would ask that citizens stay out of the area – if in the area please shelter in place.
We will continue to update here throughout the incident. https://t.co/4HjwkVVhBm
— Jax Sheriff's Office (@JSOPIO) July 22, 2022
With the suspect’s vehicle coming to a halt at the fence line of the zoo, the suspects did not obey demands to surrender, leading authorities to deploy the K-9.
Huk was struck by gunfire from one of the suspects, resulting in five officers returning fire at the suspects. Officers on the scene were able to retrieve Huk to safety.
Following the shootout, one suspect surrendered, while the other two were pronounced dead on the scene. Their identities have not been identified as of yet.
Huk was airlifted to an animal care center, where it was later announced by the clinic that he was alert and recovering.
Guests inside the zoo were ordered to shelter in place until 5 p.m., News4JAX reported.
An executive with K-9s United praised the veterinarian staff for their work to save Huk’s life.
“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, per News4JAX. He also praised first responders on the scene who treated the K-9.
Huk has been involved in the arrests of numerous dangerous individuals, including the takedown and arrest of Patrick McDowell, who fatally shot a Nassau County deputy during a traffic stop in September 2021.
#HuktheHero | K-9 Huk was identified by K9s of Valor as the dog who was shot Friday afternoon following a pursuit and crash just outside the Jacksonville Zoo. Huk has put his life on the line for the sake of law and order MULTIPLE times –> https://t.co/hyHatDUlfl pic.twitter.com/0n0v6rAPj7
— News4JAX (@wjxt4) July 23, 2022
Social media users were delighted to hear that Huk would survive his injuries and is recovering.
“Such great news. Thank you for taking care of this sweet boy. Continued prayers for Huk and his family,” one Facebook user wrote.
“Way to go First Coast Vet Specialists for saving this K9 officer,” said another user.
You can follow Ethan Letkeman on Twitter at @EthanLetkeman.