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German Shepherd shot in face adopted by Jupiter police officer

Officer Craig Yochum heard what happened to Empress and adopted her
German Shepherd Empress Officer Craig Yochum
Posted at 5:12 PM, Apr 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-08 17:50:42-04

LOXAHATCHEE, Fla. — A German Shepherd that was shot in the face is improving from her injury and will now have a new loving owner.

“She was in recovery for well over five to six weeks, before she was feeling good enough to meet her new owner,” said Lauree Simmons, president and founder of Big Dog Ranch Rescue.

That new owner is Officer Craig Yochum from the Jupiter Police Department. He heard about what happened to Empress and decided to adopt her.

“I figured, I have a German Shepherd who is about the same age that she probably get along pretty well with him,” said Yochum.

Empress arrived at Big Dog Ranch Rescue in Loxahatchee at the beginning of March.

WPTV was told somehow, she got loose and ended up on someone's doorstep in Wellington with a gunshot wound under her eye.

The veterinary radiologist believes Empress was likely shot with a 40 or 45 high caliber bullet, possibly from close range, and the fragments nearly missed her vital organs.

Empress may still need more surgery but caretakers at Big Dog Ranch Rescue hope she’ll make a full recovery and won’t need it.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office is investigating this case.

“All we can do is be here for them,” said Simmons. “Try to save as many as we can.”

Empress will now join the thousands of dogs adopted after their time and care here at Big Dog Ranch Rescue.

Empress Craig Yochum Lauree Simmons
Officer Craig Yochum, president and founder of Big Dog Ranch Rescue Lauree Simmons and Empress.

“What a better home to go to. I’ve devoted my life to helping people. Now unfortunately with my line of work, you’re getting into police work and law enforcement, you go to calls like this,” said Yochum. “Hopefully now, she’s going to a place where I can keep her safe.”

No one has been arrested in Empress’ case and there is still a $13,000 reward through PBSO for anyone who may have information that may led to an arrest.

The public is invited to share in the celebration of the 50,000 Rescue Dog at the Celebrity Chefs for Canines event in Delray Beach on April 24 at 5:30 p.m. This ticketed event features cocktails, chef tasting stations, seated dinner, luxury auction and live entertainment. All proceeds support the lifesaving work of Big Dog Ranch Rescue.