K-9 handlers learn how to care for their dog in times of crisis

SUSSEX Co., Del. – Each year, about 15 to 20 dogs in the United States are killed in the line of duty, and twice that many are injured.

Oftentimes when this happens, the dogs are hours away from veterinary care, which is why on Monday, K-9 handlers from across the First State gathered to learn crucial skills on how to save their four-legged partner’s life in a time of crisis.

Many of us know, a K-9 is a a policeman’s best friend.

Trinity Maurer, the Operations Manager of Veterinary Technical Group said, “They count on their dog to keep them alive, and their dog counts on them to keep the dog alive.”

The dogs play a critical role in the law enforcement community.

Janice Baker, the owner of Veterinary Technical Group said, “They have a very big morale boosting effect on people and so just having presence of a dog can make that law enforcement unit or agency so much more effective in doing their job.”

That’s part of the reason why it’s crucial to keep the dogs safe.

On Monday, officers practiced wrapping, compressing and carrying “injured” K-9’s out of harms way.

This helps to ensure that officers are prepared to save their furry companion’s life in a time of emergency.

Baker said, “They’re learning to control massive bleeding to clear the airway to provide respiratory support and then also planning ahead of an emergency to make sure everything goes well if it does occur.”

The training class began with lectures on how to treat various injuries, like a gunshot wound.

Handlers were taught how to apply a tourniquet, how to wrap a wound and even how to pack a wound if need be.

After that, officers were put to the test through various real-life scenarios.

In the first scenario, officers were blindfolded, told to find a dog, locate it’s injury and treat it.

Maurer said, “Sometimes their fine motor skills go out the window in a high pressure situation, so we wanted to bring home the fact that they really needed to practice this skill over and over again as much as they would practice any other tactical skill that they have to do for their job.”

Next up was an active scenario, involving a life-like K-9 named Hero.

Officers were expected to treat Hero’s injuries as well as carry him out of harms way, which was no easy task considering he weighs about 50 pounds.

The thought process behind having active scenarios like these is they will create muscle memory in the officers, allowing them to act without having to think in times of crisis.

Cpl. Justin Hopkins, a K-9 handler with Ocean View Police Department said, “My thought process is we get it now, that way, if something, well, when something happens, we are prepared, and we’re able to take measures to keep our dogs alive.”

This training class was put on by the Ocean View Police Department.

They held a fundraiser back in August at 16 mile brewery called Ales For Tails, making the class possible.

Monday was just day one of the two day training.

Monday focused on teaching handlers how to handle trauma related injuries.

Tuesday’s class will focus more on developing problem solving skills.

Categories: Delaware, Local News