A first-aid course held Wednesday, led by Dr. Monica Parker of Walton Way Veterinary Clinic, covered animal health topics from CPR to gunshot wounds to snake bites.
“The animal is our partner,” said Sgt. John Gray, a K-9 unit supervisor. “We want to be able to react with them the same way we would with a human being.”
The main goal, Parker said, is for the trainers to know what to do in an emergency before seeing a veterinarian.
The sheriff’s office recently received 10 first aid trauma kits, 10 cooling vests and two ballistics vests from Project Paws Alive, a nonprofit organization that raises funds for lifesaving equipment for K-9 units nationwide.
One of the conditions of the first aid kit donation was that the officers train with the items to ensure they will be used effectively.
The sheriff’s office had limited kits for handlers, but “nothing like we have now,” Gray said.
Gray said there have been minor incidents, such as cuts or ingesting drugs, but no K-9 has been seriously injured on the job.
He hopes the training will better
prepare them if such a situation occurs.
The kits include bandages and dressings, saline wrap, Vetbond glue, thermometers and hydrogen peroxide.
The eight Richmond County handlers were joined by handlers from SRS, Warrenton and Grovetown police departments. The training was a refresher course for most attendees.
“I just want them to be able to recall what to do in an emergency without panicking,” Parker said.
Some animal health topics, such as heat-related illnesses, took up more time than others.
“In Augusta, you’re going to have high heat and high humidity almost every month of the year,” Parker said.
Those who attended Wednesday’s session said the course made them feel more confident with the dogs. Little things, such as knowing how to induce vomiting or take a heartbeat, can make a life-saving difference, they said.