Ambulances and Police Dogs

Published 7:00 am Saturday, March 17, 2018

Recently, Senate Bill 2091 was signed into Mississippi law allowing emergency medical staff to transport police dogs injured in the line of duty to a nearby vet or hospital for care.

For decades law enforcement agencies across the United States have employed the use of dogs. After extensive training, these dogs are paired with a partner and assist with a variety of tasks, such as criminal apprehension, search and rescue, drug detection and weapon detection. Law enforcement dogs provide positive benefits for the department in which they are employed, as well as to their trainers.

The purpose of Senate Bill 2091 is to, “authorize an emergency medical technician or other emergency personnel to transport a police dog injured in the line of duty to a veterinary clinic or hospital emergency department.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The Bill specifically states that ambulances are only to be used to transport canines if no people are in need of immediate service.

According to AAA Chief of Operations Chuck Carter, there are only five ambulances in service within Pearl River County, including four 24-hour vehicles and one 12-hour vehicle. Of these five ambulances, one is located in Poplarville, one is in McNeil and three are in Picayune, Carter said. With more than 50,000 people living in Pearl River County, having even one less ambulance available to someone in need could be disastrous.

Brian Anthony with the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department is the head instructor and trainer for the K-9 division. He said there are currently four trained dogs in service at the Sheriff’s Department. While none have been harmed in the past, Anthony said that if any dogs were injured in the line of duty, he or another officer would drive the animal to a vet personally, rather than call an ambulance. Because a dog’s anatomy is so different from a person’s, Anthony said ambulance staff might not be properly equipped to deal with an injured dog. Because of this, all K-9 handlers at the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department are thoroughly trained in canine-specific first-aid and CPR.

The Sheriff’s Department currently has a contract with the Poplarville Animal Clinic for the care of their four dogs. Dr. Amanda Soxworth, owner and veterinarian at the clinic, said she and her staff often work with privately owned dogs that have suffered gunshot wounds or were injured in dog fights, among other things. As a result, the staff is equipped to stabilize any serious injury that may occur to a K-9. In the instance a wound is too severe for the clinic to handle, Soxworth said the clinic has a working relationship with several emergency veterinary clinics in Hattiesburg and Louisiana.

In regards to ambulance transportation, Soxworth said that much of the equipment used at the clinic is the same as what is used for human patients. However, because of the difference in drug doses, among other things, the veterinary clinic is ultimately the best equipped to handle any canine injuries.

Senate Bill 2091 will officially take effect on July 1, 2018.