News: Heat hits working dog in Yuma, SAR responds
In the potentially harsh desert environment found in the Yuma area, heat injuries are not uncommon for Marines, even the ones with four legs.
Joe, a 2-year-old German Short-haired Pointer, and his handler, Lance Cpl. Matthew Plumeri, a K-9 handler stationed at Camp Pendleton, Calif., were training at the Marine Corps Inter-Service Advanced Skills Canine Course, aboard the U.S. Army's Yuma Proving Ground on May 12, 2011, when Joe stopped acting normal.
"He had diarrhea that day, so I recommended taking him to the vet anyway," said Plumeri. "But after working on an exercise for over an hour, his whole demeanor changed. We knew we had to get to the vet soon."
Plumeri and some instructors from the course noticed Joe, a military working dog specialized in searching, was acting lathargic and had a temperature of over 104 degrees.
After a visit to Capt. Emily Pieracci, YPG's veterinarian, blood work and x-rays determined Joe was in serious trouble.
"Joe had elevated liver values, a low red blood cell count, signs of an internal infection and a low number of platelets, which put him at risk to bleed internally," said Pieracci.
Pieracci recommended Joe be transported to a 24-hour emergency veterinary care center immediately.
A C-12 airplane from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma's Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron had just returned from a training flight and picked up Joe and his handler, then transported them to MCAS Miramar.
"We were glad to help out YPG and the K-9 handlers," said Maj. John Green, H&HS executive officer. "It's not every day that the C-12 guys have the opportunity to do something rescue related."
From Miramar, the pair traveled to San Diego Veterinary Referral Hospital to get Joe the treatment he needed to save his life.
There, Joe was diagnosed with hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, or bleeding in the digestive tract, and stabilized overnight. He was later transferred to the Camp Pendleton vet clinic for further observation.
"He will have a long recovery, but he has made it through the worst and is doing well," said Pieracci. "His ability to continue as a working dog has yet to be determined. After he recovers, he will have to undergo physical training and endurance tests to determine if he will be able to deploy in hot environments in the future."
The cause of Joe's disease is uncertain, but there is strong suspicion that this was a heat related injury brought on by poor physical conditioning prior to training at YPG, said Pieracci.
"It was a combination of heat and stress," said Plumeri, "but he's doing a lot better now. We're working with him trying to condition him back up to full strength."
Dogs suffer from heat related injuries just like people do. Physical conditioning, such as daily PT, is needed by our military working dogs in the same way that Marines and soldiers need PT, Pieracci added.
Date Posted:05.26.2011 17:21
Location:YUMA, AZ, US
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