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After beating cancer, K-9 deputy finds new role as therapy dog in mental health unit

Pasco K9 with cancer
Posted at 10:11 AM, Apr 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-22 10:11:06-04

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — Jojo was a top dog at the Pasco County Sheriff's Office in Florida, sniffing out drugs as a K-9 deputy, but at the beginning of the year, the Labrador retriever was diagnosed with a rare cancer.

Thankfully, chemotherapy treatment worked, and the sheriff's office says JoJo is cancer-free.

But his former partner says he needed a less stressful job.

"Even though it's your partner at work and a tool when you are working, it's still a member of your family at home, and I'm just happy we can give him an opportunity to come back and work because once he was in remission, I could just see he was really wanting to do something again," said Deputy Ryan Kiely.

That "something" is working as a therapy dog in the mental health unit.

He's now teamed up with lead chaplain Brian Brown.

"It's a great reminder to all of us that no matter what we are going through that we have an opportunity to rebound," said Brown.

Jojo's primary role is helping members of the sheriff's office and their families deal with traumatic events. But he'll be around for anyone who needs him.

"It could be anything from a baby drowning to a car crash. Just bringing that smile, that hope and healing," said Brown.

"I always thought he could serve dual purpose as a therapy dog. I thought he always liked being petted a little more than finding drugs anyways," said Kiley.

With JoJo shifting duties, there's a new K-9 on the narcotics watch. Deputy Kiley is now teamed up with Joker, a 14-month-old Malinois-German shepherd mix.

The duo just passed their state certifications and are now on the job.

This story was originally published by Erik Waxler at WFTS.