Trained to locate and apprehend fleeing felons and suspects, Ike required emergency intervention for mesenteric volvulus.
The Perfect Dog for the Program
It’s not every day that the MSU Veterinary Medical Center receives an award from Washington, D.C. When it happened this month, the award was attached to an incredible story about a canine handler named Jeff Perryman and his dog, Ike.
Perryman is the program manager for the Special Response Team K9 Program of the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Operations Division. When he isn’t handling day-to-day operations and paperwork, Jeff and Ike will train or deploy with one of their five teams throughout the country to arrest violent criminals.
Ike is one of only 10 dogs trained for this program throughout the United States. Perryman has been working with Ike for five years, and said that Ike is a fantastic partner.
“We purchased him from a trainer in Germany,” Perryman said. “This trainer knew I was retiring through my last working dog, Brody, and suggested I look at this Shepherd. Ike crushed the tests I put him through, and shortly thereafter became my partner.”
Perryman had previous experience with the MSU Veterinary Medical Center, when Ike became extremely ill, Perryman brought him to us.
The Road to the MSU Veterinary Medical Center
Ike began his journey to MSU while on assignment with Perryman in Georgia. Ike exhibited symptoms of gastric dilatation-volvulus, or “bloat,” meaning that Ike’s stomach had twisted, causing the stomach to expand and build up pressure. Bloat is a life-threatening condition for dogs with complications such as shock, loss of blood flow, and rupture of the stomach wall.
Perryman was trained to relieve bloat by inserting a 14-gauge needle into Ike’s stomach to relieve the gas, but it was not effective. Perryman knew if Ike’s stomach had twisted, the blood supply was being cut off to Ike’s other organs, causing them to shut down. He rushed Ike to a 24-hour clinic where they corrected the torsion and secured it so it would not twist again.
About one week later back in Michigan, Ike began vomiting at 4:00 a.m. Perryman took Ike outside and found that Ike’s stool was full of blood, so he rushed Ike to the MSU Veterinary Medical Center Emergency and Critical Care Medicine team.
While waiting for test results, Dr. Ari Jutkowitz happened to walk by. Perryman had worked with Jutkowitz when his first working dog, Boomer, came into MSU with an auto-immune disease.
“I hadn’t seen Ari in 12 years, but we recognized each other quickly,” Perryman said. “Ari looked Ike over and immediately ordered an ultrasound.”
The ultrasound revealed that Ike’s entire digestive tract lacked blood flow, and Ike was diagnosed with mesenteric volvulus (twisting of the entire intestinal tract).
According to Dr. Jutkowitz, successful surgical management of this diagnosis is no guarantee. Many dogs are brought in too late and must be euthanized on the table as a result of non-viable (dead) bowel.
“(Dr. Jutkowitz) knew what to do immediately,” Perryman said. “They rushed (Ike) into surgery.”
Perryman said Jutkowitz talked with him, explaining that due to the severity of Ike’s condition, Ike did not have a good chance of survival.
“(I) just asked him to do what he could,” Perryman said.
Resident surgeons Dr. Andrew Armstrong and Dr. Krista Gazzola began operating on Ike while Jutkowitz and anesthetist Jennifer DeVoe worked to keep him alive. Against the odds, Ike pulled through and was admitted to ICU for several days.
“The ICU people let me stay in his cage with him as much as I wanted, and sometimes through the night,” Perryman said. “It made us both feel better.”
An Award for Helping an Agent
Ike recovered slowly and was allowed to go home after a few days. One week later, Ike and Perryman returned to have Ike’s staples removed–and to drop off a special award
“The award given to Ari and the staff is something our director, Tom Brandon, prepares for individuals who go above and beyond to help an agent,” Perryman explained. “They fly a full-sized flag at our headquarters in D.C. for a day in honor of the MSU vet personnel. Then they take down the flag, fold it neatly, and send it with a certificate of appreciation to the appropriate people. Our director also wrote Ari and the staff a very nice thank you note, thanking them for their help in saving Ike’s life.”