Police officers from across Suffolk County received hands-on training Thursday in Riverhead on how to treat wounds to K-9 dogs, from bandaging legs to identifying injuries such as a hip fracture.
East End Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Center in Riverhead hosted the lecture and workshop while also donating first-aid kits to the K-9 units. It was the second workshop the center has hosted and first time the boxes were donated.
“We’re greatly appreciative of the service the officers are providing,” the center’s director, Dr. Gal Vatash, said. “What we are doing is a small part, just trying to help them to do their job better.”
Riverhead officer John ‘Jack’ Doscinski — who introduced his new K-9 dog Titan at the event — said the medical treatment was harder than it looked.
“Unless you’re a doctor, it’s a little unnerving to realize you might have to wrap something up,” he said. “This is something that can definitely be applied and without a doubt will save some dogs.”
The doctors running the program said a dog injured in the field could ultimately die if not for proper first-aid. At the workshop, officers learned how to deal with injuries until the dog be transferred to a veterinary facility.
Dr. Rosemary Lombardi, the center’s Surgical Director, said most dogs that die from an in-the-field injury are what veterinarians call “preventable deaths.” The time from the moment of injury to the hospital is the most important period, and many Suffolk County officers are stationed almost an hour away from a hospital facility, she said.
“We’re trying to help them to be the first responders,” she said, adding that she loves to see the officers get involved and be eager to learn. “The more they get involved and the more this becomes second nature to them, the more they don’t need to think in an emergency situation and the better they will be at it.”
Dr. Vatash said the idea for the medical boxes came from discussions with the officers about their needs. Riverhead councilman Tim Hubbard and councilwoman Jodi Giglio presented a proclamation of appreciation to the center before the lecture began.
“To have something in the vehicle that they can treat their animal if they have to is an awesome thing,” said Mr. Hubbard, who is a retired Riverhead police officer. “The veterinary group here has put together a great package for [the officers] to use out in the field.”