K9 collapses during search for shooting suspect - WKRN News 2

K9 collapses during search for shooting suspect

Posted: Updated: Sep 11, 2013 07:00 AM CDT
Sergeant Young comforting Ely the K9 on Sunday in Murfreesboro. Photo courtesy of the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office. Sergeant Young comforting Ely the K9 on Sunday in Murfreesboro. Photo courtesy of the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office.
Photo courtesy of the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office. Photo courtesy of the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office.
Photo courtesy of the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office. Photo courtesy of the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office.
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -

A Rutherford County K9's health is improving, but his long term recovery is still uncertain after suffering a possible heat stroke during a manhunt Sunday.

Ely, a three-year-old Belgian Malinois, is expected to remain at the Williams Animal Hospital under veterinarian care for the next couple of days.

The four-legged officer was assisting his partner, Rutherford County Sheriff's Sgt. Lee Young, during a manhunt for shooing suspect Bradley Benefield on Sunday.

Temperatures were above 90 degrees when Ely succumbed to heat exhaustion and a possible heat stroke.

"When he started showing me signs of heat exhaustion, he was already past the point of turning around because we were close to 400 yards into a wood line," Sgt. Young said. "We carried him about 50 to 60 yards out of the woods."

Tactical medics on the scene began administering fluids immediately.  Veterinarian Dr. Sara Covert took over the animal's care a short time later.

"During the initial care, he was shaking and having muscle spasms," she said.

Dr. Covert said Ely's body temperature was elevated, but below the threshold of a heat stroke. His initial care by tactical medics may have helped bring down his temperature.

Ely currently is having trouble with his kidneys and blood, which keeps clotting. He is being treated with antibiotics and intravenous fluids.

"When you do have a heat stroke, there is a lot of thermal damage, so it can be to the brain, it can be to the intestines and it can be to the kidneys," Dr. Covert said.

The doctor also said private pet owners should be aware of the effects heat can have on their animals.

Animals, especially dogs, do not release heat from their bodies the same way humans cool themselves.

"They do have a few sweat glands in their paws, so they do release it there, and they release it through panting, but they cannot release heat through pores," she explained.

Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold is calling for funding to provide cooling vests for the dogs in his department's K9 unit, as well as heat sensors for the deputies vehicles.

The sheriff also plans to implement more advanced classes about medical emergencies for the K9 deputies.

Sgt. Young hopes Ely will make a full recovery so he can return to work, though that may not be possible.

Dr. Covert said having a heat-related illness makes Ely more susceptible to having another one in the future.

"He wants to be right there with me," Sgt. Young said of Ely. "It's not two individuals out there doing a job; it's one as a partnership."

If you would like to help provide cooling vests for the K9 unit, checks can be mailed to the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office at 940 New Salem Highway, Murfreesboro, TN 37129.

Please put "K9" in the check's memo line.

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