Yarmouth police Officer Sean Gannon’s K-9 partner is clinging to life today after being shot last Thursday, according to veterinarians. Officer Gannon and Nero, a German Shepherd, were both struck by gunfire while serving an arrest warrant for Thomas M. Latanowich at a home in Barnstable.

Latanowich, 29, who was wanted on a probation violation, has been charged with Officer Gannon’s murder and for wounding Nero.

Here’s the story from the Boston Globe:

The bullet that hit Nero entered under his jaw and went through his trachea and esophagus and then lodged in his back by his shoulder blade, according to Dr. Louisa Rahilly, medical director at Cape Cod Veterinary Specialists in Buzzards Bay.

She said Nero had to undergo “urgent surgery” on Friday to repair his trachea and esophagus. The bullet will remain in his body, she said.

“He’s doing great, but I wouldn’t call him out of the woods yet,” she said. “He’s recovering better than expected.”

Rahilly said if all goes well, he could make a full recovery, but they’re taking it day by day.

“He’s bright, alert, he’s comfortable, and he’s eating,” she said. “I think right now he’s on the road to a full recovery.”

Rahilly said the dog has been following commands and walking laps around the hospital, which makes him feel like he’s working. His appetite has improved and he’s been eating chicken more regularly, she said.

Rahilly said Nero has had many visitors. Police officers who are grieving the loss of Gannon have been a constant presence in the ICU.

“It’s healing for them to see him, and to see him recovering and improving,” she said.

Peter McClelland, a retired Yarmouth K-9 officer who trained Nero when he was a puppy, has been watching over Nero as he recovers.

Nero and Gannon were both shot at a home on Blueberry Lane in the village of Marstons Mills. McClelland said the dog was shot in the upper part of the house, and remained inside the home until police arrested Latanowich. “We didn’t even know he was,” said McClelland. And when Nero was found, “we didn’t know the extent of his injuries.”

 Sergeant Tom Hennessey, the supervisor of the K-9 unit, said Nero’s recovery means “we get to keep piece of Sean.”

When a police officer leaves home for work in the morning, he doesn’t know if he will be returning in the evening time. It’s doubtful that Officer Gannon anticipated trouble when he went to serve that probation violation. He gave his life to protect the innocent and maintain the rule of law that this country was founded on. Here at Pawfect, we salute Office Gannon and appreciate his brave service…

Our hearts and prayers are with Nero and Officer Gannon’s family at this time.

What should have to Latanowich? 

Do you believe in the death penalty?