St. Paul, vet school partner on K-9 health

St. Paul police’s 19 dogs will go to the U’s vet school for health needs in the future.

St. Paul K-9 Officer Peter Renteria stands next to his dog Lance at the St. Paul Police Canine Unit Timothy J. Jones Training Facility on Wednesday. Lance is being treated for cancer at the University.

Matt Mead

St. Paul K-9 Officer Peter Renteria stands next to his dog Lance at the St. Paul Police Canine Unit Timothy J. Jones Training Facility on Wednesday. Lance is being treated for cancer at the University.

Anissa Stocks

The St. Paul Police Department and the University of MinnesotaâÄôs College of Veterinary Medicine have partnered to provide K-9 units with health care services in a new three-year contract. Currently, there are 19 dogs serving as K-9 officers in the department. Under the contract, it costs the police department $930 each time a K-9 is treated at the University, with a 5 percent increase each year. Before the partnership, the St. Paul Police Department paid a set fee for each visit to local clinics where the dogs sought treatment. âÄúMany times we would end up at the UniversityâÄôs clinic because it provides more services for the animals,âÄù said St. Paul police Sgt. Paul Dunnom. âÄúWe jumped at an opportunity to assist the K-9s where research and care are the most advanced.âÄù Health care, including vaccination, heartworm preventatives and annual exams are covered under the contract for each pre-certified K-9. Kellie Strand, a technician at the UniversityâÄôs veterinary clinic, has worked with each of the St. Paul Police DepartmentâÄôs K-9 officers. She said because each dogâÄôs records are on file and because the clinic provides 24-hour service, the clinic can respond to any injury or illness. âÄúThe department and its dogs benefit from the partnership in the most extreme cases, as well as routine checkups,âÄù Strand said. In April, a St. Paul K-9 was shot in the face and suffered a tooth fracture because of his injury. Strand said the clinic responded quickly and that the K-9 recovered. Dunnom said the UniversityâÄôs veterinary services have responded with immediate medical attention for the departmentâÄôs K-9s in ways other clinics arenâÄôt able to. âÄúThe UniversityâÄôs veterinary services have an expertise that many clinics canâÄôt compete with,âÄù he said. âÄúItâÄôs a no-brainer âĦ the school continues to teach the vets we were going to before the partnership started.âÄù Hospital director David Lee said the UniversityâÄôs facilities are the largest and busiest in the country. âÄúMost people donâÄôt realize that,âÄù he said. âÄúWe have almost all the technology a human hospital would.âÄù The clinic is equipped with an MRI scanner and other specialized machines that ensure advanced care for its patients. There are more than 65 specialists working at the clinic and 13 specialties within it. âÄúThe medical center provides a level of care that departments within St. Paul law enforcement require to ensure [public safety],âÄù Lee said. Four dogs will be treated at the clinic before the end of the month, Dummon said. K-9 units are an extension of law enforcement and should be provided with the care and love needed to assist them back to health, Strand said. âÄúThese dogs provide security to Minnesota,âÄù she said. âÄúWe need to provide them with protection when they are injured or sick.âÄù