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California K-9 Dies During Exercise, Handler Loses Finger Trying to Save Him

January 19, 2016  | 

Jojo on duty. (Photo; Facebook)
Jojo on duty. (Photo; Facebook)

A San Bernardino County sheriff's detective lost his finger during an attempt to save his K9 partner, trained in explosive detection and tracking, who died while searching a warehouse, officials said Friday.

Jojo, a 4-year-old Sable German Shepherd from the Czech Republic, got an object lodged in his throat and choked to death during the exercise on Jan. 6, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

Jojo's handler, Detective Brad Phillips, posted a message on the department's Facebook page on his attempt to rescue his friend and partner of three years, KABC 7 reports.

 "I did everything in my power to save him and in the process had my right pinky finger amputated...I am devastated that I failed," he said.

JoJo was assigned to the bomb and arson detail with tracking and explosive detection skills. Phillips said although Jojo accomplished many things throughout his career, including finding buried guns and tracking wanted felons, his most courageous moment was on Dec. 2, when he searched neighboring buildings, parking lots and the very site of the San Bernardino terror attack for 10 consecutive hours while "people were still lying lifelessly.”


Comments (4)

Displaying 1 - 4 of 4

tbow426 @ 1/20/2016 12:03 PM

I'm going to "guess" the object was the dog's toy that was given when he made the find. Sometimes crappy things happen to good people for no apparent reason. At some point step back and take a look at the training session. Was everything done right? If so, chalk it up to one of those crappy things that happen. Is there a valid reason to change something in training? If so...do it but not because admin says you have to. Be honest and realize mistakes are a reality "if" that applies here.

Sherry @ 2/13/2016 12:54 PM

I am so sorry that this has taken place. I am not to sure what happened here but it is a really bad thing when an officer dies during a controled exercise.

punisher124 @ 4/3/2016 6:31 PM

I am sorry to learn of the loss of your k9 this way. I have seen this happen to a friend and fellow Deputy who worked a dog on my patrol squad. He was breaking (allowing the dog to run and play) when the dog's ball became lodged in its throat. He tried to remove the ball but it was so low in the throat he also could not pull it free. He received several serious bites to the hands. He ran 10-18 traffic with escort to our Dept.Vet but the ball was so low an emergency trak could not even save the dog. She was able to mercifully put the dog down quickly to end her suffering. These things happen in training and normal k-9 activities. Having been a handler I understand the pain of your loss. I am deeply sorry for both you and your agency. The public often doesn't understand these animals are family to their handlers, and brother members of the Blue Line...just like everyone who pins on a badge. RIP JOJO.

Jim Duncan @ 4/5/2016 4:45 PM

I am sorry brother; I spent 30 years on the job. I was a dirt solider and thou I was never a handler I was very privileged and honored to work with many K-9 Officers and their courages handlers.
In the early 90's our wonderful friend K-9 Captain was killed in the line of duty. He was protecting his handler from a phyco who threw Captain off the I-5/80 overpass in West Sacramento California. My Friend K-9 Officer Deanna Stevens morned Captain worthy of the friend he was. The only saving grace of the incident was the suspect launched himself over the same overpass to his death. God Bless u Bother

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