Police Dog Shot During Gunman Search "Doing Well"

K-9 Bruno was shot in the face after finding a probationer hiding in a trash bin, and the bullet stopped just one inch from the dog's heart, police say

By Christina Cocca, Vikki Vargas, Kate Larsen and Jonathan Lloyd
|  Friday, Mar 21, 2014  |  Updated 10:38 PM PDT
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Bruno, the police dog, is doing better Friday after being shot during a SWAT standoff in Anaheim. Bruno's jaw had to be reconstructed and part of his lung was removed during a lengthy surgery Thursday night. Kate Larsen reports from Anaheim for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on March 21, 2014.

Kate Larsen/Lori Bentley

Bruno, the police dog, is doing better Friday after being shot during a SWAT standoff in Anaheim. Bruno's jaw had to be reconstructed and part of his lung was removed during a lengthy surgery Thursday night. Kate Larsen reports from Anaheim for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on March 21, 2014.

Photos and Videos

Anaheim Police Dog Begins Recovery

An Anaheim police dog named Bruno was recovering from being shot Thursday by a man who was later killed by officers. Bruno underwent surgery and is expected to make it, but his road to recovery will be long. Kate Larsen reports live for the NBC4 News at Noon on Friday, March 21, 2014.

Police Dog Recovering After Surgery

Bruno the police dog is out of surgery after a gunman shot him in the face during a search. An Anaheim officer describes the shooting, surgery and recovery process. Toni Guinyard reports for Today in LA on Friday March 21, 2014.
More Photos and Videos

An Anaheim police dog underwent surgery Thursday night and remained heavily sedated in "a lot of pain" after being struck by a bullet in the face during a confrontation with a gunman who was later shot and killed by officers.

The incident began when probation officers were conducting a search in the 1120 block of Mayfair Avenue about 2 p.m., according to the Anaheim Police Department.

The probationer and two other men ran into an alley when they saw police, officials said. One of the men fired shots at an officer who followed them into the alley, but the officer was not hit.

The gunmen ran away, and police called a SWAT team and K-9 unit for help. During a neighborhood search, a police dog named Bruno found one of the men hiding in a trash bin, police said. 

The man then shot 7-year-old Bruno in the face, prompting officers to return fire, police said. The bullet shattered his lower jaw bone and re-entered the dog in his chest.

The gunman -- identified by the coroner's office as 21-year-old Robert Moreno Jr. (pictured, below) -- died at the scene. Police took one man into custody but were still searching for the third.

Bruno had emergency surgery at a veterinary hospital Thursday evening.

"He probably saved three officers' lives," Anaheim Police Lt. Tim Schmidt said of Bruno, one of six dogs in the K-9 unit.

The gunshot wound forced doctors to remove part of Bruno's lung. The dog slept "off and on" during the night and remained heavily sedated early Friday, Schmidt said.

"We should know in the next 12 hours whether the dog will make it or not," Schmidt said early Friday. "He's like a child for us."

Early Friday afternoon, the Anaheim Police Department tweeted that Bruno was "doing well" after visits from his human partner.

Photos on the Friends of the Anaheim Police K9 Association Facebook page show Bruno sitting happily in an Anaheim police cruiser (shown at right), and dressed in a shirt and tie with his handler.

"Great dog, loves kids, loves to be petted," Schmidt said. "We were very thankful to have him."

Support flooded in for the pup as he underwent surgery.

"Speedy recovery for Bruno!!! I know he's going to get lots of love!" an NBC4 viewer tweeted.

"Get better soon, Bruno! We all wish you a speedy recovery!" another viewer said.

 "All the best thoughts go out to this brave officer and his human partners!" another tweet read.

The Anaheim Police Department tweeted photos of Bruno sleeping after his surgery was complete (shown at left).

His handler, Anaheim police officer RJ Young, stayed by Bruno's operating room for his entire near-four-hour surgery.

The sable German shepherd has spent six years on the force and is the most senior of the Anaheim police dogs.

He is expected to remain at the veterinarian for six weeks, with medical bills in the thousands. Anyone who wants to donate to Bruno's medical care can visit the Friends of the Anaheim Police K9 Association Facebook donation page.

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