Working K-9s Have Specific Medical Needs

At Franktown Animal Clinic, our team of veterinarians and medical staff have been caring for the working K-9s of Douglas County for more than 20 years. These dogs put their lives on the line, and due to the physically-demanding nature of their work they often suffer specific ailments that our veterinarians must treat.

Dogs with Special Needs

An active duty police K-9 experiences physical exertion on an almost daily basis. They love their job and can’t wait to train and work. They must run fast for short bursts of time, jump over fences and apprehend violent suspects. When performing a building search, they can be exposed to violence and are at risk of getting punched, shot or stabbed (they do all wear bullet proof vests). They may come into contact with illegal drugs. During hot weather, handlers must be vigilant to protect the dogs from experiencing dehydration and heatstroke.

Often, these K-9 officers are in vehicles involved in high speed chases and can be involved in crashes which result in injury. When a K-9 is involved in any sort of accident or apprehension of a suspect, our team must conduct a thorough wellness examination to make sure the dog is not suffering from an injury, both internal and external. All of this physical activity puts a large amount of stress on a K-9’s joints, which can cause injuries (like a tear to an Anterior Cruciate Ligament, or ACL) and ultimately contribute to conditions like arthritis.

As these K-9 heroes age, they often experience mild to severe pain in their musculature, which we treat aggressively. We want to keep any sort of ailment under control so they can perform at the highest level while working and enjoy their retirement as much as possible. For dogs over the age of 10, cancer is the leading cause of death. In fact, fifty percent of dogs that age will develop cancer.* Both retired dogs currently cared for by our K-9 Officer Preservation (KOP) Fund have had cancer. Retired K-9 Officer Tank had a soft tissue sarcoma and has had his toe amputated as a result, and luckily he is in remission now. Retired K-9 Officer Borris has an aggressive form of cancer that we are currently treating. Our hope is to make both of these retired dogs as comfortable and happy as possible while we address their illnesses.

At Franktown Animal Clinic, we take a holistic and individualized approach to treating each working and retired K-9 under our care. We treat pain and disease with Westernized medicine using state-of-the-art diagnostic technologies and medications, and also incorporate Eastern therapies such as acupuncture for our K-9s in order to maintain optimal health.

While the K-9s are employed by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, their medical care is paid by the county. Upon retirement, however, the cost of medical care reverts to their handler, who purchases the dog from Douglas County for $1. Such care can cost thousands of dollars per year depending on the health of the dog.

These K-9 heroes deserve to have the best medical care throughout their lives. You can show your support for the working dogs of Douglas County by making a donation to K-9 Friends for ongoing training and tactical gear and also to the KOP Fund, which covers medical care for the retired K-9s of Douglas County.

* Web MD Pet Health Feature, April 2012

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