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Anaheim, Calif., K-9 officer Bruno

He took the bullet meant for a police officer.

He’s been credited with saving at least one life and possibly many more.

But even with his jaw shattered, the bullet lodged in his chest and blood filling his lungs, he merely let out a whimper, then strained at his leash, begging to be sent back into to the action.

So explain the men in uniform who witnessed the heroic actions of Bruno, the senior K-9 officer of the Anaheim, Calif., police department in a confrontation with an armed gang member on March 19.

“Even as his handler raced him to the hospital,” an Anaheim police blog explains, “Bruno’s ears were up and he didn’t want to lie down.”

Bruno is “a tough dog who did his job well yesterday,” Anaheim police Capt. Mark Cyprien added. “He’s a hero.”

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The Anaheim Police relate that Robert Andrew Moreno, 21 – an Orange gang member whose rap sheet included auto theft, narcotics violations and assault on a custodial officer – was released from prison about a week before the shooting.

When approached on the afternoon of March 19 by probation officers, Moreno reportedly fled. Some time later, he encountered a woman unloading groceries with her two children, brandished a gun and threatened to kill them if they alerted the police.

Bruno then joined Anaheim SWAT officers in the manhunt, cornering Moreno behind a trashcan. When Bruno located Moreno, the gang member opened fire, shot Bruno and was eventually gunned down by the police.

According to Friends of the Anaheim Police K9 Association, a non-profit raising money to help cover Bruno’s medical expenses, Moreno’s bullet shattered Bruno’s jaw, then entered his chest before stopping at his heart, narrowly missing the dog’s vital aorta.

Bruno and partner, Officer R.J. Young

Bruno then underwent a three-hour surgery at the Yorba Linda Regional Animal Hospital, where doctors removed a portion of his lung and reconstructed his jaw.

“His vital signs were stable,” Anaheim Police Capt. Bob Conklin said, according to the blog post. “The hospital did an amazing job.”

Anaheim Police Department Lt. Tim Schmidt told KTLA-TV Bruno has has been getting a steady of stream of visitors, including his partner, Officer R.J. Young, who stayed with the dog throughout the night.

“The impact on him – that dog is like a child to his family,” Schmidt said of the relationship between Bruno and his partner. “He’s devastated by it.”

Friends of the Anaheim Police K9 Association report Bruno is recovering, starting to walk and eat again, but that should the senior K-9 officer be retired, the cost of his continued health care will eventually fall on his partner, Officer Young. Instructions on how to donate to Bruno’s continued care can be found on the Friends’ Facebook page.

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