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TikTok famous Thurston County Sheriff's Office K-9 has new lease on life

Arlo survived a complex eight-hour surgery after being shot on the job.
Credit: Molly Rosbach

THURSTON COUNTY, Wash. — Arlo, the TikTok famous Thurston County Sheriff K-9 officer, had surgery to remove a bullet from near his spine. He was shot twice in the line of duty on Jan. 13.

The pup had a fever that spiked right before his scheduled surgery, but thankfully after eight hours under the knife at Oregon State University's Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine, the K-9 officer was walking with assistance on Saturday.

Arlo's more than 600,000 TikTok fans will be relieved to know he has a renewed lease on life after having only a 60% chance at surviving the procedure.

"It's a miracle that Arlo's still alive," said Dr. Jen Warnock, the orthopedic veterinary surgeon who repaired the bone damage to Arlo's vertebrae.

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"The C6 vertebra was shattered; the bullet missed an artery that would've killed him by a millimeter; it could've destroyed his carotid artery," said Warnock. "He's unlucky but lucky at the same time."

The 3-year-old German shepherd had been treated in Washington for a bullet wound to his leg on the day he was shot. However, a second bullet was lodged near his spine so he was referred to OSU.

Arlo was the newest member of the Thurston County K-9 unit, having received his certification to serve at the end of 2019. His popular TikTok is run by his handler Deputy Tyler Turpin.

"He's an amazing dog," said K-9 unit supervisor Sgt. Rod Ditrich. "He's just so enthusiastic and he's one of our most vocal, energetic dogs that we've got — he just is always happy, wants to please, just an amazing animal. Super easy to train. He lives for the job — that's all he wants to do is please Deputy Turpin and perform the job of a police K-9."

Arlo will remain in the ICU over the weekend to be monitored.

"The shoulder that had all the bullet damage is the weakest," Warnock said. "He's still weak, but he's improving by leaps and bounds."

Arlo has a long recovery ahead of him and he will not be able to return to active duty. Due to the damage to his neck and shoulders, it is likely he will have arthritis.

When Thurston County K-9 dogs retire, their handlers are given the first opportunity to purchase them and keep them as pets.

"We just want what's best for Arlo," Ditrich said.

The K-9 unit at Thurston County is paid for entirely through community donations. A GoFundMe page has been created to pay for Arlo's medical bills.