(May 7, 2009 Stillwater, OK) – It was an ordinary day. The Guthrie Police Department patrol car arrived at the scene in response to a burglar alarm. The door to the local hardware store was ajar. Officer Brian Crumb, Canine Officer Wes Henry and Henry’s canine partner, Rudy, a 3 ½ year-old Belgian Malinois, approached the structure to do a building search. On the second floor of the hardware store, Henry unleashed Rudy and gave him the search command. Rudy eagerly went to work; however, he failed to stop at the edge of the balcony and at 7:20 p.m. on April 23, he plummeted 25 feet to the main floor below. As Henry and Crumb helplessly watched, their work day turned into anything but ordinary.
When Henry arrived on the first floor, Rudy had managed to get up in time to collapse against his partner’s legs. Henry picked up the 90 pound dog and carried him with the help of Crumb to the back seat of the patrol car. Henry swung by his home long enough to pick up his wife, veterinarian Margi Gilmour. As the Guthrie Police dispatcher radioed ahead to the OSU Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, Henry drove with lights flashing and sirens blaring to the veterinary center’s Emergency Room at the Boren Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.
Gilmour is an associate professor at the veterinary hospital and is the only board certified ophthalmologist on staff. A team of veterinarians and veterinary technicians were ready and waiting when the police car pulled in.
“I work with these people every day and I know they provide excellent client and patient care,” smiles Gilmour. “But to see it and experience it first-hand, really touched our hearts. The Intensive Care Unit was all laid out and they were waiting for him ready to do whatever was necessary to help Rudy.”
Rudy is a dual purpose canine. He was born in Holland. From there he traveled to Kansas for training and then was purchased by Henry and Gilmour. He resides with them at their home in Guthrie. Rudy has been Henry’s partner since October 2008. He is the only canine on the Guthrie Police Force.
“Rudy is trained to provide protection for his fellow officers and to do narcotics work,” explains Henry. “He tracks suspects, searches buildings and sniffs out drugs. It’s amazing but suspects rarely test Rudy when he’s on the job.”
Dr. Emily Medici, resident in Small Animal Internal Medicine, was the first to examine Rudy.
“As we were waiting for him to get there, I just kept thinking about everything that could be wrong with him – fractures, internal organ damage, air in his chest,” says Medici. “When he got to OSU, he looked so stable. I examined him quickly and didn’t find anything life-threatening. I was relieved.”
Dr. Brent Newcomb, resident in Small Animal Surgery, was one of the veterinarians who also examined Rudy.
“I expected Rudy would have one or more orthopedic injuries,” says Newcomb. “Either a fracture or ligament damage but after a full orthopedic examination, I found everything to be normal.”
Dr. Nicole Culwell is an assistant clinical professor and a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Medicine – Specialty of Cardiology. Culwell also examined Rudy for any possible heart related injuries.
Because trauma of the chest may lead to cardiac arrhythmias, Culwell recommended that Rudy stay in ICU for 48-72 hours following his fall. Continuous ECG monitoring was recommended to make sure no problems arose during his hospitalization.
“The veterinarians and hospital staff did an awesome job,” says Henry. “Everyone was great. It was very comforting to see all of them tending to Rudy. He’s an officer. My phone didn’t stop ringing. All the guys were worried about him. Rudy has gotten us out of a lot of jams. He’s one of us.”
Henry also noted that the Stillwater Police Department offered to send a police escort for him not realizing that Henry was familiar with the OSU veterinary hospital. Stillwater PD has a canine unit also.
A week later, Rudy was back to the veterinary hospital to see Dr. David Russell. Russell, OSU Class of 1997, has a small animal practice in Tulsa and is interested in veterinary dentistry. He comes to the Small Animal Clinic at the teaching hospital once a week to see patients and instruct fourth year veterinary students on veterinary dental techniques.
“Rudy has possibly fractured his incisors when he hit the floor,” reports Russell. “It’s probably painful. We can either extract the teeth or perform a root canal to save the teeth. Because the roots on a dog’s teeth are so deep, often it is less invasive to do the root canal.”
Rudy is trained as a bite dog so a firm, pain-free grip is important to his line of work.
“Rudy is not scared of anything,” says Guthrie Chief of Police Damon Devereaux. “As a patrol dog, Rudy uses his teeth for more than chewing. There is a lot of biting and pulling involved in his job.”
Rudy also may develop some ligament problems according to Dr. Mark Rochat, Small Animal Surgery Section Chief.
“Dr. Rochat advised us to watch Rudy to make sure his legs are okay and he didn’t over stretch his ligaments when he landed,” says Henry. “If that’s the case, he may require surgery down the road. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
For now, Rudy is on light duty until a determination can be made about his teeth and his ability to firmly grip his subjects. He shows no signs of any other after effects of his most unusual day in the line of duty.
The Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences is one of 28 veterinary colleges in the United States and is fully accredited by the Council on Education of the American Veterinary Medical Association. The center’s Boren Veterinary Medial Teaching Hospital is open to the public and provides routine and specialized care for small and large animals. It also offers 24 hour emergency care and is certified by the American Animal Hospital Association. For more information, visit www.cvhs.okstate.edu or call (405) 744-7000—when you want the very best care for your animals.