If you're reading this in SW Utah we can bet you have already heard about the recent incident of a K9 officer being shot in the face while in the line of duty. In case you haven't: K9 Tess survived her injuries thanks to quick action and emergency surgery after being life-flighted to Las Vegas. She is now recovering with partner/ handler Officer Graf. To learn more about the Tess we recommend watching a video put together by one of our mission partners, Bone Appetit.
Washington County Sheriff's Department K9, Tess, in recovery
after life-saving surgery was performed. Trauma to her head and
neck occurred when she was shot in the face while entering a
vehicle to aid officers with a suspect.
Bernie Green is a supervisor with the Department of Defense's Military Working Dog Breeding Program. Experts say dogs can suffer from PTSD-like conditions that can affect their military capabilities later on.
Since the incident BAM reps have been repeatedly asked if there are any updates on Tess and what happens to working dogs who go through such horrible trauma on the job. Being dog lovers it is natural to question what is next for Tess and similarly injured dogs. So we did a little research.
Though the science on canine trauma is relatively new, there is research being done and a growing understanding of what can best be understood as "Canine PTSD". Most of the research is being done with combat dogs, though similar findings take place with search and rescue dogs, those in bomb detection, and, of course, police dogs. Luckily it is rare for search and rescue dogs to be physically impacted, though it is tragic nonetheless. In mass devastation (floods, landslides, earthquakes, bombings, etc.) dogs who are trained to find survivors can experience extremely high stress when unable to recover people, etc. I certainly cannot imagine being placed back in the same high-stress environment I was traumatized or injured in without extensive therapy and even re-training.
Anyone who has worked with or adopted a rescue dog may even be familiar with the remnants of physical or emotional trauma a dog may have gone through before being rescue