Canine First Aid – It’s not something often taught to law enforcement officers.

Not even K9 Unit handlers.

If their partner was shot or stabbed, or was suffering from heat exhaustion or GDV, most K9 handlers aren’t trained on how to handle those situations. Neither are most medics for that matter.

It’s during those situations that every second is precious – they can be the difference between life and death.

That’s exactly why the Medina County Sheriff’s Office reached out to Akron Veterinary Referral & Emergency Center with a request.

The request made to AVREC: Help educate our handlers and SWAT medics in duty related canine first aid.

After receiving first aid kits for their two K9 units, they realized the handlers and medics weren’t trained on how to treat their 4 legged officers.

Enter Dr. Wendy Kollar and Dr. Jason Callard.

Working together, the emergency doctor and boarded surgeon came up with a game plan. The two doctors would go over the following topics:

  • Normal canine blood pressure
  • Normal canine temperature
  • Where to place an IV
  • How to induce vomiting
    • Due to ingesting drugs and other foreign substances.
  • Subcutaneous fluids
  • Drug doses
    • How to reverse side effects of ingesting drugs
  • Canine CPR
  • Lacerations; tendon & ligament tears, stab wounds, cuts
  • Punctures; Gun shot wounds, sticks/foreign objects penetrating the body
  • Fractures
  • Blunt force trauma
  • Paw injuries/Nail injuries
  • Heat Exhaustion
  • Cold – Salt on paws, snow, frostbite
  • GDV, Bloat, Gastropexy, nutrition
  • Dental injuries
  • Administrating oxygen
  • Transporting canines with certain injuries
    • Spinal injuries, limb fractures, jaw fractures
  • Bandaging, stapling, skin glue

Deputy Dave King of the Medina County Sheriff’s Office and Officer Ryan Gibbons of the Montville Police Department were in attendance for this first training session. Deputy King’s partner, Rocky, is a Belgian Malinois, Officer Gibbons’ partner, Bleck, is a German Shepherd. The Medina County Sheriff’s Office has one other K9 unit – with Deputy Dan Kohler and his partner Apollo.

Both Deputy King and Officer Gibbons went through intensive training with their partners to be a K9 officer, they also received, as do all officers, First Aid/CPR training for humans. They did not receive any formal canine first aid training.

Until now.

The first ‘Field Trauma First Aid for Law Enforcement Canines’ training session lasted just over two hours and everyone left with a little more peace of mind.

From the handlers to the medics – the training session was educational and hands on.

With the help of Dr. Callard’s own dogs, Rosco and Ziva – Dr. Kollar and Dr. Callard were able to show the “students” where to place an IV, how to do CPR, how to bandage an injured paw, where to place certain drugs and fluids, how to treat certain injuries, basic canine anatomy and more.

With the ability to ask as many questions as they needed, and getting hands on; feeling where the heart is, where important veins are – the handlers and medics learned the ins and outs of canine first aid and what it takes to care for their canine partners.

Hopefully, the training also gave everyone the confidence they need to care for Rocky, Apollo & Bleck during times of need and trauma.

For Dr. Kollar and Dr. Callard and all of AVREC, it was an opportunity to give back to the community and show support for the men, women, and dogs, that protect and serve everyday.

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