Lehigh Valley

Medical professionals aim to standardize K9 treatment

An effort is underway to standardize how injured K9 officers receive treatment if injured in the field.

Reading Police K9 Training Officer Joshua Faust describes what happens when a dog is injured.

"Nothing set up, no protocol, kind of fly by the seat of your pants when it happens," Faust explained.

It creates a legal limbo as responders both in the air and on the ground don't know what they are liable for when treating the animals.

"God forbid if the dog does pass away, it can still fall on that person," LVHN Medvac nurse Gail Hunsberger adds.

Hunsberger's Center Valley Volunteer group Officer K9 Care, made up of vets, K9 officers, and EMS professionals, is writing legislative guidelines for what to do when a K9 goes down.

They recently met with Lehigh Valley Democrat Senator Lisa Boscola's office.

"I hope it sets a standard nationally for K9 Care," said Lower Saucon Township K9 Officer Steve Kunigus.

Kunigus and his 5-year-old Belgium mix partner Atos have worked side-by-side for the past four years.

"These dogs help save the lives of fellow officers. We want to make sure they're protected and they're safe like our co-workers are," Kunigus said.

In 2015, Reading K9 Cody was life-flighted after falling 20 feet while on duty.

"We have our own dispatch that would actually call the vet and let them know we’re on our way and call medvac for us if we need it," Faust explained.

It was a life-saving protocol made after meeting with Hunsberger a month before Cody's fall.

Cody is back on duty and Faust and Hunsberger are hoping all dogs injured will have a similar path back.

A spokesman for Boscola said she 100% supports the efforts and will work to introduce the legislation.


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