The American Kennel Club (AKC®), the world’s largest purebred dog registry and leading advocate for dogs, is honored to announce the first set of 2017 AKC Paw of Courage awards to recognize the working canines that put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe. This award specifically recognizes those who are serving or have served their departments honorably.
“These selfless canines prove their devotion time and time again,” said AKC Vice President Gina DiNardo. “They demonstrate loyalty, valor and honor in their careers and each of these dogs has made a substantial sacrifice in the line of duty. It is with great esteem that we honor these working dogs with the AKC Paw of Courage as an indication of our appreciation.”
Any working dog is eligible to receive the AKC Paw of Courage; the award is not specific to purebred dogs. To nominate a dog for the next set of Paw of Courage awards, click here. Recipients of the award, or their human partner, will receive a 2017 AKC Paw of Courage medal along with a certificate. In addition, the recipients will receive a photo and profile on akc.org.
The first set of 2017 AKC Paw of Courage recipients are:
K9 Bruno of Anaheim Police Department, CA
K9 Bruno, a seven-year-old German Shepherd Dog, served with the Anaheim Police Department for six years at the time of his injury. He was given an AKC Humane Fund Award for Canine Excellence (ACE) by the American Kennel Club in 2014 after being shot while assisting the SWAT team with a search. The bullet went through Bruno’s lower jaw and lodged in his chest, only about an inch from his heart. After the incident, Bruno retired from his K9 duties and lived at home with his partner, Officer R.J. Young. About two years later, K9 Bruno succumbed to complications from his initial injury.
Bruno was one of two dogs who trained to become part of the SWAT team. He graduated first in his class from the K9 academy and also won first place overall in narcotics during his first ever K9 competition. Bruno was credited with finding millions of dollars’ worth of narcotics and narcotic-related money. He was always full of energy and was well known around the department for disrupting briefings by chewing on his red toy. K9 Bruno was a cherished officer, partner and family companion and will be missed dearly by Officer Young and the Anaheim Police Department, as well as every one of the many lives he has touched.
K9 Mattis of the Alpharetta Police Department, GA
K9 Mattis, a three-year-old German Shepherd Dog, serves with the Alpharetta Police Department. In October of 2016, while handler, Officer Mark Tappan and K9 Mattis were in a foot pursuit, the suspect leapt off a 30-foot retaining wall and Mattis followed without hesitation, leading to his surrender. Mattis was checked for obvious injuries and was quickly on his way to respond to the next call with Officer Tappan. They were able to track down and apprehend the second suspect shortly before Mattis collapsed from internal injuries from the earlier fall. He was rushed to the emergency vet where he was treated for a lacerated liver and a contusion of his right lung.
Mattis has since made a full recovery and returned to active duty. In his short time with the department, Mattis has contributed to over 100 arrests and has assisted in removing countless amounts of narcotics from the streets. Additionally, he has performed several demonstrations for church groups, schools and various other community groups, often surrounded by the children of the community. Officer Tappan describes K9 Mattis as a very special blend of tenacious working dog and friendly family pet. Mattis’ lack of hesitation jumping off the wall demonstrates his dedication and loyalty to his work. The sacrifice Mattis made that day to protect his community is truly appreciated by Officer Tappan, the Alpharetta Police Department and the community he serves.
K9 Jardo of the Boise Police Department, ID
K9 Jardo was a six-year-old Belgian Malinois of the Boise Police Department in Idaho when he was shot in the line of duty while confronting an armed suspect. Jardo was rushed to WestVet Animal Emergency and Specialty Center with at least one gunshot wound to the chest. He underwent surgery and two dogs, both pets of staff members at WestVet, donated blood to Jardo, giving him a life-saving transfusion. The surgery and transfusion were successful and Jardo was expected to make a full recovery. However, about a week later, he succumbed to his injuries.
K9 Jardo was trained to track and apprehend dangerous criminals, find evidence relating to crimes and locate street drugs. He successfully apprehended a dangerous gang member in his very first week on patrol. When he was not on duty, Jardo enjoyed playing with his dog friends and swimming in the canal by his house. K9 Jardo made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty to protect his community. He will be missed dearly by his handler, Officer Shane Williams, as well as the entire Boise Police Department and each person he has touched throughout his life.
K9 Peydro of the Woodland Police Department, CA
K9 Peydro is a three-year-old German Shepherd Dog, handled by Officer Juan Barrera. He served the Woodland Police Department honorably for a little over a year. In May of 2016, Peydro was struck by a vehicle while he and Officer Barrera were in pursuit of a wanted man. K9 Peydro was immediately transported to a veterinary hospital and after a successful surgery and blood transfusion, he made a full recovery, but was medically retired in October of 2016.
The suspect involved in the incident later turned himself in to the Woodland Police Department. Peydro was a dual purpose police K9 trained in narcotics, apprehension, and article searching. He weighs about 80 lbs, but Officer Barrera and his family are convinced that he thinks he's a lap dog. When he’s not on duty, he loves to cuddle up on the couch and balance toys on his nose. Peydro’s sacrifice in the line of duty was an indication of his courage and commitment to his community. He is now enjoying his retired life with his family.
For downloadable images of the recipients, click here.