UC Davis veterinarians honored for saving K-9 officers life

dvm360dvm360 January 2019
Volume 50
Issue 1

When German shepherd Haakon suffered a ruptured bladder, the UC Davis veterinary team performed a lifesaving surgery.

Photo courtesy of UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Ingrid Balsa, assistant professor of clinical, surgical and radiological sciences, is shown here with K-9 Haakon and his handler, Deputy Joshua Stillman.

UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine reports that its veterinary team successfully saved the life of San Joaquin County K-9 Haakon this past March. 

Haakon's handler, Deputy Joshua Stillman, first noticed that the 7-year-old German shepherd was sluggish one night after work.

“We came up to UC Davis and found that he had a ruptured bladder wall, and was basically leaking urine into his body cavity,” Stillman says in a release from the university.

Haakon was immediately rushed into surgery, where the UC Davis veterinary team removed a large portion of his bladder that was necrotic.

At the same time, the surgical team performed a preventative gastropexy on Haakon, because of his breed's susceptibility to bloat and Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus.

“German shepherds and some other large-breed dogs are prone to developing a condition where their stomach fills with fluid and air and rotates on itself,” says Ingrid Balsa, MEd, DVM, DACVS, assistant professor of clinical, surgical and radiological sciences at UC Davis. “So having a gastropexy can prevent that twisting of the stomach."

According to the release, Haakon has had one prior brush with death. In 2014, he was stabbed while trying to apprehend a suspect.

“The suspect had a knife and he had cut [Haakon's] neck, and we pulled him out and took him to a vet hospital in Stockton and they saved him,” Stillman says.

At a special awards ceremony, the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office presented the UC Davis veterinary team with a plaque and a donation check for their lifesaving work on Haakon.

The release states that Haakon has fully recovered and is back at work. As he nears retirement, Stillman hopes Haakon can join the whole Stillman family full time.

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