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Handlers learn to give man's best friend some needed TLC

New Hampshire Union Leader

February 20. 2013 10:35PM
Veterinary technician Megan Meyers demonstrates how to take a dog's vital signs to Manchester police K9 Officer Jacob Tyler Wednesday. (MARK HAYWARD/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER - A police dog is no slouch.

After all, when the suspect runs too fast, or if the crowd it too unruly, or the building too labyrinthian, the men and women with the badges and guns call out the dogs.

Naturally, those dogs can get bruised and banged up.

With that in mind, the Manchester Police Department hosted a first-aid course Wednesday for officers who handle police dogs.

"Obviously, they're more prone to have dangerous things happen to them," said Manchester Police Sgt. Chris Goodnow, who heads up the nine-dog Manchester police K-9 unit.

Goodnow said police dogs frequently suffer from falls, especially when sent into abandoned buildings with bad staircases. They get hurt while running through thick brush. They get too eager when sniffing out hidden drugs and gobble up their find.

A Manchester police dog has been hit by a car while chasing a suspect, and years ago a burglar knocked out a Manchester police dog with a pipe, Goodnow said.

The burglar was charged with a felony. A quirk of state law makes it a felony to assault a police dog in any way, while if one pushes or punches a human police officer, he faces a misdemeanor unless a serious injury results.

The training session included participants from New Hampshire State Police, Fish and Game officers, Essex County sheriff deputies and police from several towns.

Laurie Farrell, a Concord-area veterinarian, used docile Labrador retrievers to show police how to listen for a heartbeat, place a splint on a broken leg and induce vomiting.

She said most first aid for people works on dogs. "The general concept is the same," said Farrell, who works at CAVES, an emergency care office for pets in Concord.

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