As founder of Pet First Aid 4U and a master certified pet first-aid/CPR instructor, I’ve conducted customized classes all across the country for professional pet sitters, dog walkers, pet boarding staffs, veterinary technicians, and even self-proclaimed “crazy cat ladies.” My partners: Pet Safety Dog Chipper and Pet Safety Cat Casey. (Up until Chipper’s recent death, they were the country’s only cat-dog teaching team.)
But I never expected this request: an urgent email from Corporal Brian Anthony of the Pearl River County Sheriff Department in Poplarville, Mississippi. Turns out Anthony will do anything to protect his four-legged partner, Nix, as well as the team of officers and their K-9 partners he supervises.
He wrote: “We have all kinds of bugs and reptiles out here that could injure our K-9 partners, not to mention the possibility of being injured during a struggle with a suspect. I have a responsibility to Nix, my partner, to learn as much as possible to be able to render aid until I can get him to a veterinarian. Can you please come and help us learn pet first aid?”
It was the quickest yes I’ve ever said. Within a month, Chipper, Casey, and I faced a lineup of eight K-9 officers inside the Pearl River Community College auditorium.
“Oh, I forgot to mention,” Anthony said moments before class began. “Police officers can be a tough audience to win over. Good luck.”
I was up for the challenge, having designed a pet first-aid course for working dogs who face the real possibility of being kicked, stabbed, shot, and injured in a high-speed pursuit. Helping me craft this curriculum was Mike LoSasso, D.V.M., an emergency medicine veterinarian from Plano, Texas, who serves on the Pet First Aid 4U veterinary advisory board. And, thanks to Chipper’s charm and Casey’s ability to surprise the officers with his dog-like tricks, we quickly won the officers over.
During the five-hour course, officers learned how to use their batons as splints for broken legs, perform CPR and rescue breathing, stabilize their four-legged partners in cases of being bit by venomous snakes, treat their dogs for heatstroke, and find the right pulse to apply pressure in case of arterial blood loss.
As a thank you, Anthony treated Chipper and me to a tour inside his squad car. And they made my 13-year-old Husky/Golden Retriever mix an honorary K-9 officer with a badge and a certificate that designated her as an “uncertified member of the Pearl River County K-9 Unit.”
Sorry, Casey, there are no feline officers — yet!
Top photo: Arden with Corporal Brian Anthony and his K9 partner, Nix. (Photo courtesy Arden Moore)