GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — A hero left the hospital in Gwinnett County on Tuesday to the cheers of the people he protected.

Gwinnett County Police Corporal Aaron Carlyle fought off tears when describing the bond he shares with his right-hand, K9 Kai, a narcotics and patrol K9 officer. A suspect shot the two-year-old Belgian Malinois multiple times last month during an arrest. Carlyle became his handler last year, and Kai has been part of his family ever since.

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“He’s always happy, wags his tail, gives us hope,” said Carlyle.

They’re trained to handle a shooting, but it’s still a hard pill to swallow when it happens.

“We were able to offer what little first aid we could to him prior to him getting here, and I think that’s probably the difference in why he was able to walk out of here today,” Carlyle said.

Kai checked out of the animal hospital on Tuesday afternoon to a cheering crowd of happy officers. “It’s very nice to see, to have that brotherhood and to know they know what you’re going through,” said Carlyle. “For him to be able to walk out today, it’s amazing.”

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“It’s cases like him that come in that we can help that make us feel like our job is really important and really special,” said Brittany Yoder, a registered veterinary technician at North Georgia Veterinary Specialists, the animal hospital where Kai was treated for three weeks.

Carlyle says Kai has a long road ahead, but everyone’s hoping for a speedy recovery and that he will be back to doing what he loves in no time.

“If he’s not cut out to be a cop anymore, be a police dog, he’ll be the most spoiled dog ever for the rest of his life, and I’ll never be able to thank him more,” he said.

To Carlyle, Kai is more than a survivor. “He’s a hero to me and the other officers who were on that track that night because he took rounds that were meant for us, and he never faltered from his job, and we went home that night to our families,” said Carlyle, who also expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support. “I’m sure he’s ready to get home and enjoy whatever treats I have coming to him.”

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And there’s no better treat than this bittersweet reunion.