By Dave Sutor
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — Officers in the Johnstown Police Department's K9 unit are their dog's partners, friends and — in some unfortunate situations — their doctors, too.
The animals often put their lives at risk, especially when they enter dangerous situations even before their human partners do. That places them at risk of being injured: broken bones, cuts, Mace in eyes, gunshot wounds.
Because of their close relationship to the animals, the officers want to make sure they can provide immediate — and potentially lifesaving — medical care to their K9s if necessary.
The human members of the city's K9 unit learned how to provide emergency care from Karen Tiffany, an associate veterinarian at Richland Veterinary Hospital, during a presentation Wednesday in the Public Safety Building.
Tiffany showed the officers how to use treatments such as bandages and eye wash, both found in the medical kits the unit recently received.
"It's a great class. It's great knowledge for us to have if something happens to them in the field," said Officer Michael Kanuch, head of the K9 corps. "We'll be able to actually tend to them quickly and to respond to the vet to get them taken care of properly."
Many medical tips for taking care of animals are similar to what they are for humans.
"It's using the same principles that you would in the human first aid, but applying it a little bit differently because of the different anatomy and physiology," Tiffany said.
There are four pairings in the Johnstown K9 group: Kanuch and Rocky, Sgt. Michael Plunkard and Sarge, Officer Brian Stevens and Titan, and Officer Bill Killinger and Pax.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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