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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Iowa Police Dog Needs YOUR Assistance

On October 19, 2004, a Des Moines Police Dog was injured in the line of duty.  Two Officers responded to the scene following a report that an armed suspect ran off into the woods after shots were fired at an apartment complex.  The Canine Officer was deployed into a dark wooded area in search of the suspect.

photo from

The suspect was lying on the ground with gun in hand, waiting for the Officers in the woods.  When the Canine Officer began alerting the suspects position, the suspect opened fire on the Canine Officer.  The flash of the gunfire when the Canine Officer was shot alerted the Officers to the location of the suspect.  The Officers returned fire, shooting the suspect several times.  Unfortunately, the Canine Officer was caught in the crossfire, injured by both the suspect and the Officers involved in the shootout by a .45-caliber bullet and a shotgun.

"Reno", the Canine Officer, was shot in his chest and his leg.  A bullet shattered vertebrae in his spine, another shattered his knee cap.  He had surgery at Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine as well as undergoing physical therapy.  Officer Tim Nading, Reno's handler, and another officer escaped the incident without injury thanks to Reno's brave and dedicated actions.

"It's a great asset to the department, and in this case we're very, we're positive that it more than likely saved these officers' lives," Sgt. Tony Steverson said.

The Veterinary Surgeons at Iowa State gave Reno a 70% chance of returning to police work. After five months of healing and physical rehabilitation sessions at Iowa State, he was able to return to duty.

Reno had been on the force for one year at the time of the shooting. He served the Des Moines Police Department for a total of seven years. 

Reno was honored by the:
  1. City of Des Moines with the Key to the City.   
  2. United States Police Canine Association as the 2004 Patrol Case of the Year .
  3. American Kennel Club (AKC) with the American Kennel Club Awards for Canine Excellence (ACE) 2005

Officer Nading and Reno visit schools to educate childrendemonstrate obedience training skills to pet owners, and participate in fundraisers for local animal shelters and rescues.  Their dedication went beyond the routine service of a police officer.

At the time of the shooting, Reno was not wearing a protective vest.  Reno, who was one of five Canine Officers that had been recruited the previous year, was waiting for a protective vest to arrive that was still on order. 

Reno's shooter, Michael Shawn Reyna, was charged with 3 counts of attempted murder, and sentenced to 25 years in prison to be served concurrent with other counts, and was given credit given for time served.  Charges of causing injuries to a Canine Officer were dismissed.  Reyna filed this month, May of 2011, for Post Conviction Relief.  According to , "Post-conviction relief is a general term related to appeals of criminal convictions, which may include release, new trial, modification of sentence, and such other relief as may be proper and just."

Reno retired from the Des Moines Police Department in March of 2011.  Officer Nading, who continues to care for Reno during his retirement years, credits Reno with saving his life.  Officer Nading continues to pay out of pocket for medicines that provide health, comfort, and quality of life for Reno during his retirement years, but the expense is not minimal after such extensive injuries. 

I am inspired by the dedication of dog to his officer and duty.  A dog that was nearly fatally wounded, not only survived the injuries and psychological trauma, but continued to serve his officer, and his department for another six years before retiring.  His officer continues to share his home and his family with his former Canine Partner, which includes paying for medications for a dog that likely saved his life.  

A fund has been initiated to help Officer Nading provide the medication Reno needs to maintain his quality of life.  Anyone wishing to donate to Reno's Retirement fund  can send a check to Iowa Veterinary Specialists 6110 Creston Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa 50312.

The dedication of the Police Department to their Canine Officer seems questionable.  After seven years of service, a life threatening injury, and possibly two Officers' lives saved, shouldn't a Canine Officer have his medical care paid for by the department he served.  A dog whose average life span is 9-12 years, who has spent seven of those years protecting officers and citizens deserves at least that much respect.

Why was a Canine Officer allowed to serve active duty without the benefit of access to a protective vest?  Why would a fellow officer repeatedly refer to a Canine Officer as "It"? 
Why is there no "retirement" care provided for a Canine Officer that has done more than serve his Officer, his department, and his citizens?
Why were the charges for Injuring a Canine Officer Dismissed?

I don't know the answer to these questions, but I do know that animal lovers everywhere will step up and assist Officer Nading and Reno, with the same dedication with which they protected us.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Meet the Sweets: Herkie the Hunk

A large dog was found running loose in Iowa Falls.  Rather than just turn away, a concerned person grabbed a rope, tied him to their deck, and brought him a dish of water to refresh him on a hot summer day.  The person then called for help.  The phone call went to Amy of HEART Rescue in Eldora, Iowa, and just as quickly, this email and photo arrived in my email box from Amy.  (Now do you see why I get a slight paranoia when I know Amy is trying to contact me?!)

"Okay..i need help again. Got a call about a stray, skinny, injured, male yellow lab. I have absolutely no place to put him... Can you help...please????"

I looked at this fuzzy, distant photo, and into this furball's eyes, and, as usual, I fall in love. 

I agreed to take him into our rescue, The South Hamilton Animal Alliance. When he was described as injured in the initial email, I was very concerned.  So this handsome boy was brought my way.
When he arrived, we estimated his age to be around 10 years.  He may be older.  He may be younger.  We do not know his true age since we know nothing of his background, but it is obvious that he is a senior boy.  His white face, and arthritic hind end gave that away.  The injury was little more than an odd gait due to old age and skeletal arthritis.  He was significantly underweight, and that would be an easy fix. 

We held him for 7 days, and I unfortunately left his "naming" to Miguel.  Miguel chose "Herkie" for his name, in honor of Herkie the Hawk, the mascot for the University of Iowa.  As an Iowa State University graduate, and staunch Cy the Cardinal fan, I pretended his full name was Hercules.  Why not name this handsome boy after a Greek Demigod.  Just look at those eyes!  They seem supernatural to me!

No one claimed this Demigod/Demidog during his hold time.  We vetted him, which included a neuter, microchip, heartworm test, and vaccines, flea control, and dewormer, and placed him for adoption.  Unfortunately, Herkie, as a senior dog, was not a good adoption candidate.  In most shelter situations, his geriatric conditions (age, bladder issue, and arthritis) would have placed him on the euthanasia list.  Fortunately for Herkie, I do not have the same adoption standards as many shelters.
It takes a special person to take in a senior dog who likely has limited time left to spend with a person or family.  No one knows how much time any animal will spend with us, but a senior dog will likely not give a family eight or more years of love.  We could only hope that someone would be happy with a few shared years with Herkie, that would still leave a lifetime of memories.

Herkie did relatively well living at the clinic awaiting a forever family to find him.  Due to his arthritis, we did not kennel him.  This arthritis gave him an odd stance, in which his ankles curved in.  I called it his ballerina stance.  We offered Herkie an exam room to sleep in at night, with a large comforter for a bed so he could stretch those old arthritic legs out at night.  During the day, he remained in the front office greeting people.  He did fine with my dogs, and the cats that had free roam in the clinic while awaiting their forever families.  His most significant problem, his bladder, was related to his age.  It is possible that this problem led to him becoming homeless.

While Herkie was fully housebroken, at his age, his bladder was weakened.  He was happy to share the news with you that he had to go potty during the day when we were with him.  We would head to the door to let him out.  Herkie would run to find a toy to bring to the potty with him, and the rest was fertilizer for the lawn.  But at night, he was unable to hold it.  We would often arrive the next morning to discover a wet mess in the room with him.  The clean up did not bother the staff I had employed at the time, but it came to a head one day when the room had the most repulsive of odors.  The floors seemed clean visibly and to the touch.  Where was this foul odor coming from?

Herkie's urine had found it's way past the barrier at the base of the cabinets, and was fermenting beneath the cabinets.  The odor became unbearable.  We had our contractor come in and pry the cabinets out from beneath the counter top so we could clean the floor beneath them.  Once the cabinets were pulled, the ammonia was so strong it was burning our eyes.  We could also now see that the wooden bases of all the cabinets had soaked up the moisture and were rotting.  The contractor took the cabinets, cut off the bases, and fabricated pedestal feet out of garage door railing.  $730 later, (we are still trying to pay this off if anyone would like to help) our room was almost like new, but we had realized that Herkie needed more than we were able to offer him.  He had spent months in a clinic setting.  He was loved, but he needed more.

We sent out emails, and posted on facebook that we were in dire need of a foster home for him.  We asked local rescues for help.  Herkie needed someone that would be there to hear Herkie's notice that he needed to go potty.  But no offers came in.

While at a training session for Disaster Animal Response, the instructor, who I knew from previous educational seminars, heard me discussing Herkie's story, and said, "Hold on."  She made a quick phone call to a friend of hers, then informed me that Herkie was immediately accepted into rescue.  It was as simple as that.

But it was not over yet.  I had to check out this rescue's credentials.  I had to make sure they were reputable and that my Herkie would be in good hands.  I had to make sure they knew this boy needed a foster home, not a kennel.  The group passed my inquisition with flying colors, but would the foster home be the right one for Herkie's needs?  I found out that Herkie's foster Mom would be the friend that my instructor had originally called.  The best news?  Herkie's foster Mom has a doggie door!  Herkie could go potty every ten minutes if he wanted to!  I could not have thought of a better place for Herkie. I went in the next day, and hugged Herkie with tears in my eyes.  I loved the old boy, but the decision for him to go had to be made. It was best for him.  It may not have been best for my contractor, but it was best for Herkie.

After a few weeks of arranging leapfrog transport, where volunteers each drive a rescued pet 50 miles or more to get them from point A to point B, Herkie was on his way from Iowa to AdoptALab Rescue, and a foster home in Indiana.

Herkie's foster mom, Dori, shared a photo montage of Herkie's initial investigation of his new foster home upon his arrival...
Goldilocks as told by Herkie:

This kennel is too small.

This kennel is too big!

This kennel is just right.

See Herkie check out his new toys at his new foster home.

See Herkie destroy toys.  This lead to Herkie's new name becoming Herkie Leavit.

See Herkie's new sister wonder what the heck happened to her toys.
"Mom, he killed my Wiggly Giggly!"

See Herkie's new sister forgive her Demigod Brother.

See Mom's solution to arthritic Herkie falling down the frozen steps after an ice storm.

See Herkie master the towel draped steps...sort of...

See Herkie ponder what he should do once outside.  Hmmmmmm...

See Herkie destroy the towel that draped the steps.

"I thought you said I would get a chocolate bunny for wearing this thing?!"

I recently received word that Herkie has a adopter!  A young retired widow, who had recently lost her 14 year old yellow lab, wanted a mellow dog.  The new dog would need to be gentle enough to share the house with her elderly mother.  I am not sure who was more excited, Herkie or me?

Apparently, it was Herkie!  He was ready to drive to his new home... in New Jersey.

Fortunately, his rescue group arranged for another leapfrog volunteer transport from Indiana to New Jersey.  The last leg of this transport, would be driven by Herkie's new mother, so Herkie did not need to drive himself.

Herkie meeting his new Mom at the end of the transport.

Herkie sending his foster Mom a big Raspberry.  I am certain it means, "Thank you"!

Herkie's first gift from his Forever Mom, a new collar and matching dog toy.

Herkie's new water bowl?

King Size!  The perfect bed for a Demigod!

Herkie, I don't know how many years you have left on this earth, but I pray that there are many healthful years in your future.  I am hopeful that this is your final move and that you and your new mom realize how special these next few years can be.  Best wishes, my friend.

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Friday, May 13, 2011

Clean Cut, Senior, White Male Seeks ...

It's a cool Saturday afternoon, and my cell phone rings.  I see the caller ID on my cell phone, and I admit, I panicked just a little.  The phone call was from Amy of HEART Rescue.  When Amy is calling me, rather than using facebook, either someone is terribly sick, or someone needs to be taken into my rescue NOW!  I hesitantly answer the phone..


"Hey, I just received a phone call from a lady near Iowa Falls.  Someone found a little Shih Tzu mix looking thing in a field.  Do you have room to take it in?  It's supposed to be pretty small."

"Ya, I guess we have room for another small one." 

"Thanks, I will try to get him to you on Monday."

Just like that the phone call was over.  Well that was relatively painless.  I didn't have to rush to the clinic to save someone in dire need. That is always a plus.  Questions, I can handle!  My family and I were getting ready to go to an Anniversary Party.  Life is much simpler when emergencies happen when there is nothing else going on... Wait.  When in my life as a mother, wife, veterinarian, and animal rescuer is there nothing else going on?! 

My family and I attended the party.  They had fruit bowls, and meat and cheese dishes, lemonade, and of course, cake.  I helped the kids pile food up on their plates, and got them seated.  I got a few snacks for myself after greeting the celebrating couple who have survived 50 years of marriage, and sat at the table. 

Suddenly my cell phone starts ringing, and it is Amy... again.

"Lisa, this dog is in really bad shape.  I mean really bad shape.  He cannot wait.  Are you busy?" 

"Okay, Amy, how far are you?"

"About 40 minutes away." 

Sweet, I get to finish my snack before meeting her at the clinic.  That is a positive, as I was hungry.  But the essence of this rescue is now different.  We were no longer taking in a petite little dog who needed a little TLC and a new home.  Now, I was meeting a dog that was in serious condition. 

There are many thoughts that go through my head prior to meeting any emergency.  They are thoughts of dread, nervousness, and insecurity.  "What if I cannot help this animal?  What if I cannot fix it?  What if I cannot figure out what the problem is?  What if...What if... What if..."  Even after fifteen years of practice, emergencies are not taken casually or with any false sense of confidence.

I was able to spend ample time at the party pending the arrival of the emergency.  When the time came, I pulled up to the clinic door.  Next to me sat a car with two women obviously awaiting my arrival. 

The appearance of my vehicle, stirred the ladies like a bear reaching into a hornet's nest.  The car doors flew open, their chattering voices were heard, and out of the car with them came... something.

I have seen some severely neglected animals in my rescue work, but this one made me stop in my tracks. Out of that car came this...

His face was heavily matted with thick and unusually heavy mudballs.

He was matted all over his body.

After several minutes in the exam room, he felt comfortable enough to sit down.  Suddenly, his butt stood straight up again.  Within the matts on his hind end were burrs.  There were lots of them painfully interwoven in the tangles of his own hair.

The burrs were everywhere, and lots of them.

We gave him water.  He was very thirsty.  The water was instantly the color of mud as his mudballs dissolved in the water as he tried to quench his thirst.

We had to search for his eyes.  We finally found this one.  We never did find the other.  This poor little one eyed dog, how long had he been fending for himself like this?

When this poor boy walked, he stumbled.  No straight lines.  No normal gait.  He walked like a dog that had spent too long at the bar. Is there something neurologically wrong with him?

Is there any conceivable way this poor dog can see through those matts?

His feet were matted with fur, mud, and burrs.

Each foot was tangled.

His toe nails were terribly long.

The matted fur could be shaved off in one large sheet.

Even beneath the fur, the burrs were embedded and irritating his skin.

There were several areas of severe irritation and infection.

The fur on his feet was shaved off like a thick sock, one matt entangled into another.

His belly and underside were just covered in matted mudballs.  His penis was tangled into a matt that physically pulled it off center pointing to one side of his body.

His teeth were just horrific.  The brown on his teeth is severe tartar buildup.

His gums were receded and severely infected.  Once the tartar was removed, the the majority of the teeth needed to be removed.  There was nothing left holding them in place.  All but three were gently removed.

Turns out this "thing" was a dog.  He is a poodle.  He has two eyes.   He weighed in around 10 lbs.  His hair once removed weighed in at 1.7 lbs.  Imagine, if you weigh 140 lbs, wearing a 28 pound coat as you struggled to stay alive.
He is in a foster home for HEART Rescue now.  His walk is good, appetite is good.  Adoption potential?  Not so great for any old dog.  But his quality of life is now GREAT!

Amy's phone rang several days later.  Another small matted dog was discovered in similar condition near Iowa Falls.  

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