At an invitation-only ceremony held on Tuesday, April 12, 2022, Stacey Ober, New England Legislative Analyst and Community Outreach Coordinator with the American Kennel Club’s Government Relations Department (AKC GR), joined other guests, including more than a dozen Massachusetts K9 officers and their handlers, at Governor Baker’s ceremonial signing of “Nero’s Law”. The new law allows emergency care and transportation by EMTs for a police dog injured in the line of duty, while ensuring ambulance use remains a priority for human transport.
The ceremony, a bittersweet tribute honoring police K9s, was held on the fourth anniversary of the death of Sergeant Sean Gannon of the Yarmouth Police Department. Sergeant Gannon was shot and killed in the line of duty while trying to serve an arrest warrant, and his police K9, Nero, was also injured in the shooting and suffered career-ending injuries. Nero had to be transported in the back of a car to receive veterinary medical treatment for his injuries.
Massachusetts State Representative Steven Xiarhos (Sandwich), House sponsor of “Nero’s Law”, was the Yarmouth Deputy Police Chief who assigned Sergeant Gannon and Nero that fateful day. After retiring from the force, he ran for elected office with the sole goal of passing the bill. Representative Xiarhos reflected on the healing the ceremony provided to all who valiantly responded to the tragedy four years ago, including fellow officers; the emergency room staff; and veterinarian Dr. Kevin Smith who successfully saved Nero’s life and drafted the bill.
Governor Baker emphasized, “these dogs…. are VERY special”, and noted that, last year, the Braintree Police Department’s K9 Kitt had saved lives by first recognizing a shooter’s intended ambush of two officers in pursuit.
AKC GR is grateful to all the Massachusetts residents, dog owners, and club members who responded to multiple alerts by testifying and submitting letters in support of “Nero’s Law”. It’s yet another demonstration that we do great things when we work together.