Search and Rescue Dog Gets Knee Surgery With the Help of Donations From Supporters

PetMD Editorial
Published: March 09, 2016
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Kaiser is a protective, dedicated search and rescue dog who works in Western Washington state and has helped out in many vital efforts. However, because of of the wear and tear of his active lifestyle and his line of work (including the 2014 mudslides in Oso), the German Shepherd developed partial cranial cruciate ligament tears in both of his knees, an injury that would require surgery. 

In January, a GoFundMe page was set up to help Kaiser's owner, Sarah Clarke, pay for the operation, which would allow him to get back to work—and run and do all the things a 6-year-old dog should be able to do. 

With a goal of $7,000 to help cover the costs of the knee surgeries and rehabilitation, people gave back to a dog that's helped in so many urgent times. Bringing in over $10,000 in donations, Kaiser was able to get the procedure he needed. Clarke says she was starting to feel hopeless about being able to afford the operation for Kaiser before the story went viral, but once it did and the donations started pouring in she was utterly grateful. "He is my everything ... everyone's support has saved his life, and kind of my life, too!" 

Dr. Tim Munjar of the Veterinary Surgical Center of Portland performed the hourlong surgery on Kaiser, known as a TPLO (tibial plateau leveling osteotomy). According to the VSCP, the TPLO is a technique in which "the lower bone of the joint (tibia) is cut and rotated to eliminate the abnormal motion of the knee during normal activity. The advantage of this procedure is that it does not rely on materials that can stretch or break to stabilize the knee."

Before the surgery Dr. Munjar says that Kaiser likely experienced constant knee aches and pains that would intensify with activity. After the successful procedure, Kaiser is now in full recovery mode, which includes light and limited walking with the support of a belly sling

While Clarke says the energetic Kaiser is ready to get back on his feet for good, he's taking it a day at a time.

"He is slowly getting stronger and stronger on his knees," she tells petMD. "He just started walking on his own to go potty. I will start with 5 minute leash walks and build up to 10 minutes next week. He will start hydrotherapy as soon as he's able. Depending on how the bones heal, he should be back to training/light off-leash activity late next month."

Everyone who had a hand in helping Kaiser get back to work should feel proud. "Kaiser has a very important job and I was very happy to help him out," Dr. Munjar says. "He should have a long and productive rescue life ahead of him."

Image via GoFundMe