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K-9 Officer Shot In The Line Of Duty Is Honored With The Purple Heart

Written by: Dina Fantegrossi
Dina Fantegrossi is the Assistant Editor and Head Writer for HomeLife Media. Before her career in writing, Dina was a veterinary technician for more than 15 years.Read more
| Published on October 24, 2017

7-year-old Tess has served the Washington County, Utah Sheriff’s Office for over four years. On the evening of August 29, the brave K-9 officer was shot twice in the mouth while attempting to apprehend a carjacker.

This week Tess was honored with a Purple Heart by Vietnam Veterans of America, an organization that recognizes military and police dogs as well as the men and women they serve with.

“She did her job. She saved our life, absolutely saved our life,” Tess’ longtime handler, Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Graf told KUTV after the incident.

Screenshot via ABC7


The bullets that hit Tess fractured her jaw and nicked one of her cervical vertebrae. A local veterinarian was able to stabilize her and stop the bleeding, but it was quickly determined that Tess would be better off undergoing care at a larger facility.

After a long night with Deputy Graf by her side, Tess was airlifted to Las Vegas. As a sign of support and solidarity, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s K-9 unit shut down a busy intersection so the helicopter could land directly in front of the clinic.

Now, just two months after her near-fatal shooting, Tess has returned to limited duty. She is still healing, so for now she will stick to drug-sniffing duties. According to Graf, he is also attempting to put the trauma of that day behind him.

“Being able to go through the healing process with her, getting her healed up was helpful for me too. To be able to be part of the process and the bond just solidified how important it is for her and I to be together.”

Image Credit: GoFundMe


As for the honor of the Purple Heart, Graf said:

“It’s a great award for her. But it warms my heart to know that the community out there just loves the work that we do and loves the dogs enough to reach out to say ‘thank you.'”


H/T to ABC7 & KUTV

Featured Images via Washington County Sheriff’s Office & ABC7

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