Police dog participates in WCVM research

Utah has helped to track and capture hundreds of criminals during his career with the Winnipeg City Police. Now, the Belgian Malinois is performing another public service by taking part in research at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine and helping other dogs that are diagnosed with degenerative lumbosacral stenosis (DLSS).

DLSS is a degenerative condition in large breed dogs that causes painful compression of the nerve roots within the lumbosacral joint — the point where a dog’s back and tail join together. Surgical specialists can relieve that painful compression by using a range of surgical techniques.

After Utah was diagnosed with DLSS, the Winnipeg City Police agreed to have the valuable dog undergo surgery at WCVM’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Dr. Cindy Shmon, the small animal surgical specialist who conducted the surgery, also offered to include Utah in an ongoing research study at WCVM.

With financial support from the College’s Companioin Animal Health Fund, researchers are using WCVM’s magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine to better understand the canine lumbosacral (lower back) region and the effects of decompressive surgery on the stability of dogs’ spines. The research team includes Shmon, medical imaging specialists Drs. Kimberly Tryon and John Pharr, and Dr. Sue Taylor, a specialist of veterinary internal medicine.

More than a year after Utah’s surgery, the police dog is back on duty and has recovered “to about 98 per cent of his former capacity,” says Constable Brad Gillespie of the Winnipeg City Police.


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