MERIDEN — Police say Anouke, a female German shepherd in the canine unit since 2011, is expected to make a full recovery after recent emergency abdominal surgery.
Officer David Buck, Anouke’s handler, said she underwent surgery on Oct. 4 at the VCA Animal Hospital in Cheshire to fix a serious condition called “bloat,” in which the “stomach physically twists and it cuts off blood supply to the stomach and all the other organs that are past it.”
“If it's not surgically fixed, basically the dog will die,” Buck said.
Anouke is “doing great,” Buck said, and is expected to return to work in the coming weeks. Buck said dogs are normally held at the hospital for a few days following surgery, but Anouke was doing so well that veterinarians released her after a day.
“The dog is, thank God, going to be able to survive and work for years to come,” Police Chief Jeffry Cossette said.
Anouke, one of three department canines, is a “no-bite dog” that helps locate drugs, evidence, and missing persons or suspects, Cossette said.
Buck said he received over $7,500 in donations to pay for Anouke’s surgery costs after posting about the surgery on a Facebook page for the Meriden Police K-9 Unit, which has a following of over 5,000 people. The department has an account to cover costs like food and normal check-ups, but the department would have needed a budget transfer to cover the unanticipated $5,400 cost, Cossette said.
About $3,000 was donated directly to the hospital for the medical costs and an additional $3,700 was raised from an online fundraising campaign set up by the nonprofit K9s United. Jonathan Nowinski, an employee of the VCA Shoreline Veterinary Emergency Center in Shelton who has donated to the department in the past, also raised an additional $1,000.
Buck said donations came from all over the country, including $1,000 from someone in Texas. Because the total donations of about $7,700 exceed the surgery cost of $5,400, Buck said left over funds will be used for any future medical costs.
Police dogs aren’t covered by the city’s health insurance, Cossette said, because historically there haven’t been enough major medical claims to justify insuring the dogs. Cossette said recent budget cuts to the police “had nothing to do with” the fundraising for Anouke’s surgery, despite information circulated this week on social media.
Buck said he first knew Anouke was sick when he came home on Thursday and found that Anouke had vomited “all over the house.” Buck asked a friend who is a veterinarian what he should do because the fluid was a clear color and wasn’t tainted yellow with stomach acid. He rushed her to the animal hospital in Cheshire where they performed x-rays to confirm that Anouke was experiencing bloat.
Buck said other police dogs around the state recently died due to bloat, including K-9 Viking with Hamden’s Police Department.
Owners can take measures to prevent bloat in dogs, Buck said, like making sure dogs don’t exercise within an hour after eating.