NORTH GRAFTON, Mass. - A group of first responders, veterinarians and the UMass Memorial Life Flight Air Medical Transport flight crew gathered at Tufts University on Tuesday to perform a K-9 rescue drill.

What You Need To Know

  • First responders and veterinarians at Tufts University simulated a police K-9 rescue on Tuesday

  • By February 10, EMTs across the state are required to receive training on police dog rescues, per Nero's Law

  • The law, passed in 2022, is named after fallen Yarmouth officer Sean Gannon and his K-9 partner Nero

  • Gannon died in the line of duty in 2018, and Nero was seriously injured

By Feb. 10, EMTs across the state are required to receive training on police dog rescues in accordance with Nero's Law. 

Named after fallen Yarmouth Police Officer Sean Gannon and his K-9 partner Nero, the law allows EMTs to treat and transport police canines injured in the line of duty. 

Sean Majoy, a critical care veterinarian at the Foster Hospital for Small Animals at Tufts University, was one of many advocating for the law. When it passed, it became clear first responders and his fellow veterinarians needed to be prepared for life flight scenarios. 

"What do we do in cases where dogs are in a remote or austere place, somewhere in the Berkshires, where the quickest way to get to a place like Tufts is by flight?' Majoy said. 

Majoy has been a Veterinary Corps Officer in the U.S. Army for 17 years, and has completed similar training for combat medics and handlers. 

"I became involved when I was faculty here in helping plan to try and get Nero's Law passed at the State House," Majoy said. "In Central Massachusetts, we're a level one trauma center for dogs. So we're the place in this region."

There are 10 other level one trauma centers for canines in other parts of the state, but Majoy said Tufts University would likely be called upon for rescues in Central and Western Massachusetts. 

Armelle Delaforcade, Medical Director of Emergency and Critical Care at the Foster Hospital, said the time saved by allowing EMTs to assist canines injured in the line of duty will be very valuable. 

“Most trauma-related injuries involve either internal bleeding or trauma to the airway, and in that case, it's really important to get to an emergency hospital really, really quickly," Delaforcade said. "And doing this through flight is a really nice way of getting there quickly. But it's really vital to to get them from this actual field into the emergency room so that we can actually provide the lifesaving care.”

Tuesday's drill, completed in collaboration with UMass Memorial's Life Flight crew, was seen as a success. In a real emergency, a canine handler would also be on board the helicopter. 

Local first responders are happy to know they will soon have many more options for treating police dogs injured in the field. 

"It's exciting for us because Life Flight is the only service that's doing air transport for the Nero's Law," said Eric Mathieu, Grafton Fire Chief. "So it's been it's been really good working with them."

"Inclement weather, traffic, all of those will have an effect on ground transport for an animal that's injured," said Mark Roche, Captain of Tufts University Police. "This option does give us some life saving measures that come in quickly."