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Professional K-9 handlers learn skills to treat on-the-job dog injuries

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BELGRADE - Trained K-9s make up an important part of local law enforcement.  From search and rescue to drug detection, these dogs do it all. But some of their tasks can make for dangerous situations where help could be hours away.

That's why the group K9 MEDIC made its first trip to Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter in Belgrade this weekend, to give handlers and professionals from as far as Utah and Wyoming hands-on training to keep their K-9 safe while on the job.

"We're teaching people here today how to deal with traumatic injuries for their dogs," said Instructor for K9 MEDIC, Liz Hall.  "[They're learning things like] how to deal with cold and heat injuries, we're teaching them how to better deal with any illnesses that might come up in the field, bloat, tension, tension pneumothoraxes, all kinds of things," she said.

Throughout the training, these handlers used stuffed, but pretty realistic-looking dogs to practice medical procedures, like injury wrapping and CPR.

"It's an excellent opportunity to get a little more in-depth first aid," said Bonnie Whitman, a handler with Gallatin County Western Montana Seach Dogs.

"We do search and rescue in wilderness settings, all over the place really, and this will really help us for emergency situations to protect our partners," Whitman said.

Founder and Executive Director of K9 MEDIC, Jo-Anne Brenner, says that this training can give handlers the confidence to make sure their furry partners are in good hands while on the job.

"The biggest thing we're here for is to make a difference for their dogs, and so the biggest thing is that they can prevent many of these injuries from ever happening in the first place, and that they can support their dog when they're in the field, " Brenner said.

"Ultimately if that emergency does strike, then the handler knows that they have the confidence to take care of their dog when their dog really needs them," said Brenner.

The handlers will go through one more day of training on Sunday, where they will learn more advanced techniques for extreme situations.

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