K9 Luna is one lucky pup after bullet removed from leg

Published: Oct. 29, 2020 at 6:29 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) -New information and good news to share, St Joseph County Police K-9 Luna has had a bullet removed from her leg after being shot by a suspect during a manhunt earlier this month.

We’re happy to report that she is expected to make a full recovery. Doctor’s orders are no running, but I’m told Luna is still chasing cats and various other animals. However, that’s good news considering how serious her injuries were. She had to be rushed in for emergency care.

“She was really bleeding profusely, and I think she would have bled out if we didn’t get her there quickly,' Sgt. Matt Parmelee says. He is Luna’s handler with the St. Joseph County Police.

Luna was shot in the back leg by a suspect during a manhunt on Lilac Road on October 13th. Here is the original story:

“She’s really the true hero that day. She took a lot of eyes off.... a lot more police officers would have been injured that day if it wasn’t for her," Sgt. Parmelee says.

Luna is a brave breed. While doing her job she was injured in the line of duty. Since that day Sgt. Parmelee has been returning the favor by taking care of Luna 24/7 as her leg heals.

“It’s just kind of been a roller coaster of emotions," Sgt. Parmelee says. “From trying to get her well to staying up all night and being with her.”

A special connection between officer and K-9.

“I will say that I think it has furthered our bond quite tremendously. She won’t even leave my side for two minutes now.”

Not even bullets could break that bond between the Sergeant and Luna. This week, the final piece on the road to recovery as veterinary staff at Oak Knoll Veterinary Clinic removed the bullet from Luna’s leg.

“The reason we took it out is because it started migrating and we know because it was in her back leg and as active as these dogs are with it moving we could not leave that bullet in," Dr. Aarie Szuba says. She’s with Oak Knoll Vet Clinic.

That roaming round could have caused problems.

“We worry about infection. So anytime a bullet goes in it takes everything with it, so it takes the hair with it, it takes the bacteria with it," Dr. Szuba says.

Luna may want a bone, but for now she’s stuck in a cone. Her wounds are healing and she is expected to make a full recovery. A happy ending to a story that could have been tragic.

“If it would have gotten her femoral artery she would have bled out. So she’s incredibly lucky at where that bullet went, how it went, Officer Parmelee is incredibly lucky. All the officers that were there that day are incredibly lucky," Dr. Szuba adds.

As part of today’s announcement Michigan City Police donated $1,000 to help assist in Luna’s recovery. Once fully recovered she’ll be back in in action with county police.

Here is the original press release sent about Luna and Sgt. Parmelee earlier today:

County Police Update on Officers & K9

Involved in Lilac Road Shootings

St. Joseph County – October 28, 2020 – Police Officers from multiple area law enforcement agencies responded to a shots fired call and subsequent hunt for a wanted suspect on Tuesday October 13, 2020. The resulting hunt spanned the course of that Tuesday afternoon, resulting in the death of the suspect Rodney Ross, the shooting of Officer Joseph Kasznia of the Pokagon Tribal Police Department, and the shooting of K9 Luna of the County Police Department.

During the course of two shootouts, the St. Joe County-Metro SWAT team, South Bend Police SWAT team, and dozens of officers from multiple agencies were part of the search and shoot out. During the shootouts with the suspect, four St. Joseph County Police officers fired their department weapons. Metro Homicide has investigated the discharge of those weapons. Per protocol, County Police are also conducting an internal investigative review of officers' compliance with department policies and procedures.

Two days following the incident, officers from all the different departments involved took part in an incident debrief. The debrief included all officers on scene along with peer support counselors and a with a licensed counselor trained in first responder critical incident counseling. The debrief included discussions of the physical and mental responses experienced following the shootouts along with a discussion by all officers of their role and experience during the incident. The trained peer support counselors are officers whom have also experienced an incident and are trained to talk through what is “normal reactions to an abnormal incident” with their fellow officers.

Additionally, the County Police Department Warrants team who were first on scene and were shot at by the suspect took part in a smaller debrief with the counselor to discuss their experiences of taking on gun fire while attempting to apprehend a wanted subject. Also, the four County Police officers who discharged their weapons during this incident were provided with one-on-one counseling sessions with the counselor. All County officers have been cleared to return to duty.

On Tuesday October 28 County Police K9 Luna underwent surgery to remove the bullet from her leg. Tomorrow, Thursday October 29 at 1:00 p.m. eastern time, Luna’s handler County Police Sgt. Parmalee, Luna, Sheriff Redman and representatives of Roseland Animal Hospital, Beacon Health, North Central Vet Emergency Clinic and Oak Knoll Vet Clinic will meet with the media and provide an update on Luna’s recovery from surgery. Sgt. Parmalee and Sheriff Redman will also publicly express their gratitude to all the individuals who’ve been involved in the treatment of Luna since Tuesday October 13th.

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