On the afternoon of April 12 last year, Yarmouth police K-9 Nero was severely injured.
His handler, Sgt. Sean Gannon, was fatally shot as the two attempted to serve an arrest warrant inside a Barnstable home.
Nero remained unfound for three hours after the confrontation.
When he was located, he was covered in blood. A bullet had traveled through his head and come to a rest in his shoulder.
Peter McClelland, a retired Yarmouth police officer, brought him to safety and ultimately got him the care he needed.
It was fortunate for Nero — who has since made a full recovery — that McClelland was readily available. Massachusetts state laws prohibited the legions of first responders at the scene from stabilizing and transporting the wounded K-9, according to state Rep. William Crocker.
“It’s illegal to do so in Massachusetts even though these paramedics, many have training … to be able to do that,” the lawmaker told Boston.com.
Now, the Centerville Republican is working to right the legislative oversight.
Crocker recently filed “Nero’s Bill,” a proposed law that would give EMS providers the ability to treat and transport working animals, especially police K-9s, injured in the line of duty without potential consequences against their license, the language of the bill states.
Yarmouth police Chief Frank Frederickson said the measure is common sense legislation that would ensure animals receive the treatment they need without hesitation.
“Our hope is that it’s rarely used, but we want to make sure that the service dogs that we have are treated right,” he said in an interview. “We ask a lot of our dogs, and we need to give them the best care.”
The bill requires EMS providers who provide veterinary care to receive training in line with standards set by the state’s Office of Emergency Medical Services, said Crocker, who was approached by first responders about the idea in the aftermath of the shooting.
“Police departments consider K-9s operational officers just like any human and sometimes they get hurt in the line of duty and they want to make sure they get the best treatment that they can as well,” he said.
The bill has yet to be assigned to a committee for review, but has already garnered support from over two dozen representatives on both sides of the aisle.
Crocker expects to ultimately have fire and police department officials testify before lawmakers, he said.
“Having this correction, again, I hope it’s a rarely used situation but it just happened to us,” Frederickson said. “Thank God Nero is doing well — strong, healthy. The care … that was given (to him) was great.”
The measure would also prove valuable to K-9 handlers, he said.
“Those dogs are like family for them,” Frederickson said. “There is such a bond. We have to do it for them also.”