First of its kind training teaches first responders to treat pol - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

First of its kind training teaches first responders to treat police dogs

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Madison (WKOW)-- They call them man's best friend, but for K9 officers, their four-legged partners are so much more than that. They work together, live together and play together. Now, thanks to a new training session both officers, human and canine, will be protected the same way when they're out in public serving their community.

"I think dogs have proven to be very effective in the police work. They're an excellent locating tool. They keep officers a little bit further out of harms way," Madison Police K9 officer Rose Mansavage says.

Since starting the K9 unit in 2005, the department has never experienced a major injury or loss of life. They're hoping to keep that streak going for many years to come thanks to a new training session that aims to protect these dogs in the field.

"It would be a shame to lose a dog in a situation when there was something we could have done to prevent it and this is something that we're doing," Madison Police K9 Trainer Sgt. Christine Boyd says.

The team is preparing for any situation that might come their way. That's why K9 handlers came up with the idea of getting hands-on training from doctors at Veterinarian Emergency Services last year.

"The bond that works between the two of them is irreplaceable," veterinarian Dr. Ruth Clark says. "I think some of them have learned that as they've had dogs who have become old enough to retire and start over with a new dog. These dogs are highly trained and cost thousands of dollars."

In late March, officers decided to take their training to the next level, after encountering a close call last Fall. During this case, that is still under review, a police dog apprehended a suspect without getting injured. Medics on scene however, started to ask themselves what they would do if the dog actually did get hurt?

Medics with the Madison Police and Fire Departments requested additional training after the incident. K9 handlers immediately contacted Veterinary Emergency Services for an in-depth training session to teach them how to give care to police dogs who get injured in the line of duty.

"It feels great knowing there are people out there who can protect my dog," Mansavage says. "It seems like such a simple thing, but it really means a lot to us. Words can't describe how much it helps."

Officers say that to their knowledge no other department in the nation has attempted a training like this before. They've already received inquiry from other departments who are interested in holding similar training sessions in the future.

"These officers are living with their dogs, they're working with them every single day. Their lives depend on one another. This is a big deal for these officers," Dr. Clark says.

K9 handlers say they plan to make this medical training an annual event. They're also hoping to get the dogs used to riding in ambulances, so they're more calm in the future if they ever need to be rushed to the hospital.

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