Protecting Their Partners

MICHIGAN CITY — K-9 officers from the Michigan City Police Department and the La Porte County Sheriff's Department learned first aid for their dogs during a training class at the city's police station Monday.

Conducted by veterinarian Dr. Lisa Booth, the class was offered at no charge through Kits for K-9s, a nonprofit dedicated to providing education and materials for emergency K-9 medical attention.

Booth began the class by instructing the officers to remember that dogs, regardless of their training, will try to bite if they are in pain. Before performing any procedures it is always best to muzzle the animal first to prevent bites.

Also, any department with a K-9 unit should have more than one officer who is trained to work with the dogs. It is good practice, according to Booth, to have another officer the dog will recognize and trust if their primary handler is injured.

“Make sure someone else with the department is comfortable with the dog and has somewhat of a relationship so they can take the dog away if you are hurt,” she said. “Your dog will stand over you and try to protect you.”

Using stuffed animals with imitation lungs and hearts, the officers practiced performing CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation — learning how to first check the dog's vital signs and then conduct the life-saving measures.

Although the chest compression to breath ratio is similar to performing CPR on humans — 30 compressions per breath — when performing breathing techniques on a dog, one would breath through its nose rather than mouth.

Also, Booth warned the officers to only breathe into the animal enough to see their chest rise and fall. “Their lung capacity is not the same as ours,” she said.

Booth addressed emergency situations of heat stroke, broken bones, gun shots, stab wounds and excessive bleeding and the best ways to handle each. Narcotic or explosive ingestion, encounters with wild animals such as skunks or porcupines, and recognizing signs of bloat and cancer also were discussed.

After attending the class, officers each received a kit containing helpful — and possibly life saving — supplies. These kits are valued at $100 each, but are given free of charge to the officers through the Kits for K-9s program.

Among the items are gauze, scissors, a thermometer, hydrogen peroxide, a syringe, antibiotic ointment, eyewash, glucose syrup, pliers, Benadryl, wound cleanser, a collapsible water bowl and electrolyte replacer.

It also contained wax to protect the dog's feet from frost bite in the cold of winter or hot sand and pavement in the summer heat.

Booth recently visited the Michigan City Fire Department as well, teaching first aid for animals. This class, however, focused more on life-saving efforts for animals pulled from fires or other disasters.

As a nonprofit, Kits for K-9s is always seeking donations to help fund the program. Those interested in donating, or anyone with questions about the program, may contact the organization or visit the Kits for K-9s Facebook page.

Donations may be mailed to Kits for K-9s, 822 Hunter Drive, Westville, Indiana 46391.


by JESSICA O'BRIEN Staff Writer

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