K-9 Heroes: 2 Fla. dogs shot in line of duty get Purple Hearts

K-9s Jax and Endo were shot while pursuing a carjacking suspect earlier this year

By Patricio G. Balona
The Daytona Beach News-Journal

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Two Volusia County Sheriff's Office police dogs who were shot and wounded in the line of duty received medals for their bravery on Wednesday.

The K-9s, Ax and Endo, were awarded Purple Hearts by the Sheriff's Office, while Irondog K9 International, a Georgia nonprofit, presented each with the Medal of Honor.

Irondog K9 International also paid for the dogs' medical bills after they were shot in Deltona on Sept. 11 by suspected carjacker, Shedrick Singleton, 21, of Orlando.

The awards were handed to the K-9s the same week that their handlers, deputies A.J. Davis and Brett Whitson, along with several other deputies who work with dogs, were being trained in basic first-aid techniques they can apply if their K-9 partners are injured in the future.

Volusia County Sheriff's Office K-9s Ax (left) and Endo (right) receive Medals of Honor from Irondog K9 International. 
Volusia County Sheriff's Office K-9s Ax (left) and Endo (right) receive Medals of Honor from Irondog K9 International.  (The Daytona Beach News-Journal)

The first-aid training was also paid by Irondog K9 International.

"These awards (Medals of Honor) are something that we personally just wanted to offer to those K-9s that have saved the lives of their K-9 handlers, their human officers," said Mitzi Nash, co-president and CFO of Irondog K-9 International.

The dogs were shot following a carjacking in Deltona when the suspect Singleton ran into some woods.

Ax and Endo were sent in to flush Singleton out when they received their wounds.

'I couldn't be more proud'

On Wednesday, Davis and Whitson said they were pleased with the work their dogs do and believe the animals deserve the awards.

"I couldn't be more proud," Davis said. "He (Ax) did his job to the fullest. Medals or not, I mean I just feel proud of him."

Whitson said that K-9s are trained to find suspects and do it for a toy reward, because that's how the dogs are taught. But, he added, a Purple Heart is something special.

[RELATED: 8 investments worth every penny for K-9 officers]

"The Purple Heart is recognition from the Sheriff and the community," Whitson said.

Irondog K9 International was the first organization to reach out to the Sheriff's Office, offering to take care of all medical expenses for the K-9s, Sheriff Mike Chitwood said.

"And sure enough, they were absolutely all for helping our K-9s," Chitwood said. "They even said that they were going to come in to train (our) handlers in first aid, and they are here doing that now."

The nonprofit is paying around $900 to train each K-9 handler for the three-day program. Nash said 21 deputies are being trained.

"We are also providing each K-9 handler with a first-aid kit that cost $200 each and we paid all the vet bills, so we have paid about $25,000," she said.

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McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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