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Inside K9 training: Military dog hailed hero after ISIS raid

"It's a massive asset. The K9 can do what we can't," said K9 Officer Daniel Johnson with Huntersville Police.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A military K9 is getting a lot of praise and attention for his important role in a raid that killed the infamous leader of ISIS over the weekend. 

U.S. forces completely leveled the compound where Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi was staying in northwest Syria. He detonated a suicide vest, killing himself and three of his children, after being chased to the end of a dead-end tunnel by the military K9.

The animal's name remains classified, but President Trump tweeted a picture of him, saying he did a great job.

So what exactly goes into training these K9s? Several police departments and sheriff’s offices in the Charlotte area have K9 units. 

The training is slightly different than in the military, but it’s intense and gives the agencies a vital asset. It’s an intense concentration, willingness to work, and aggression that are unmatched by any human officer.

"It's a massive asset. The K9 can do what we can't," said K9 Officer Daniel Johnson with Huntersville Police.

Each K9 has a special skill set. In Huntersville, K9 Gunner can find narcotics and missing people, while K9 Cirro can apprehend.

"Where you or I would have an issue with a subject holding a gun or firing a gun, the dogs not going to think twice about it. He doesn't care. He knows he has one job and that’s to apprehend the bad guy," said Cirro’s handler, K9 Officer Eric Johnston.

It's exactly what the now-famous military K9 did, capturing the heart of the entire nation. That type of mission is a dangerous job -- one typically reserved for a K9.

"I have tools on my belt and on my vest but they only do one thing, whereas my dog does multiple," said Johnson.

All police and military K9s and their handlers undergo intense training. 

The K9 officers in Huntersville work with their dogs every day, even if they're not on patrol, fine-tuning their invaluable skills that in some cases can make history.

"I think that dog is an absolute, true American hero," said Johnston, who's been with the K9 unit since 2001.

The K9 from that mission was hurt, but he has already been treated and will return to duty.

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