They work as hard as their human partners and when K-9s are injured it is a big loss. Keeping working dogs healthy is a must for law enforcement agencies. FOX 7's Noelle Newton shows how a vet is helping officers learn to save their dogs in this CrimeWatch.
When something isn't visible to an officer's eye, it's a K-9 they turn to. The dogs wear the badge and they hunt for wanted criminals, drugs and explosives. It's dangerous work.
"We've had them get cuts on their face, eyes they stick their heads in places sniffing and don't realize there's something there that can hurt them," said Sgt. Randy Batten.
Williamson County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Randy Batten's K-9 Skeeter suffered from heat exposure on the job.
"He got into the truck and someone shut the door. It was an accident. We didn't know he was in there," said Batten.
15 minutes passed before Batten found him.
"Just lethargic, the signs of just being like he had the flu, just didn't feel good," said Batten.
Luckily Batten knew exactly what to do to save him and that's all thanks to Dr. Shane Daigle. Daigle is the go-to veterinarian for Central Texas law enforcement agencies.
"We receive calls of field injuries or ingestion of narcotics if they're search dogs on the side of an interstate what should I do. It happens infrequently, but enough that they have us on speed dial," said Daigle.
Batten thought the information Daigle provided was too good not to share. The two partnered up for training sessions. The classes have become so popular that they had had to establish a cut off at 50.
On this day, K-9 handlers from Temple, Austin police, DPS and the game wardens, to name a few, were in the audience. Daigle teaches the handlers proper nutrition, wound care and even CPR.
"A lot of these guys may be trained in CPR for people, but it's significantly different when compared to that of an animal so training these guys I think helps them in the field should any incident occur," said Daigle.
Daigle has also helped officers design first aid kits--which they keep in their patrol cars. APD K-9 handler and trainer Doug Floyd showed us the contents of his kit.
"Sphygmomanometer," Floyd explains. "We carry alcohol. This is vet wrap. We use this when they have an injury."
Syringes, a staple gun and ice packs are also musts.
"It's all about saving these dogs," said Floyd.
"I think it's understated the importance of the dog and the assistance the dog gives to the police officer. Ultimately, the health of the dog is really important to the mainstay and the goal of the department to detect drugs and catch the bad guys," said Daigle.
Sometimes K-9s are lost in the line of duty. In 2011, the Fayette County Sheriff's Office drug dog Knight died of heat stroke while pursuing a suspect through the woods.