PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Almost every day, first responders put their lives on the line.

Their K-9 partners do the same.

Now, a new class is training emergency workers to treat injured working dogs.

It’s been just over two months since Pittsburgh Police K-9, Rocco, was laid to rest with full honors.

The 8-year-old German Shepherd was stabbed while helping to apprehend a most wanted suspect.

After medical ups and downs, Rooco passed away. The death devastated law enforcement and the community.

K-9s aren’t viewed at just animals – they’re officers.

That’s the main reason for the training session at Forbes Hospital in Monroeville.

About 60 emergency responders gathered to learn about treating injured working dogs.

It’s about being able to care for the dogs in those first critical moments, before they get to a trauma facility.

The attendees learned about resuscitation, administering medications, and treating wounds from shootings or stabbings.

“These dogs mean a lot to us. They keep us safe, they keep the officers safe, they do the same job for the community that all the officers do and we kind of feel it’s our responsibility to take care of the working dogs the same way that we take care of everybody else in the community,” Forbes Hospital EMS Medical Director Dr. Daniel Schwartz said.

Dr. Daniel Schwartz helped to organize the class. His time in the military inspired him. Overseas, he worked with explosive detection dogs.

“We treated dogs in Iraq and Afghanistan and after seeing the training that our special operations medics have, and that they can actually take care of these dogs, I said, ‘You know, we should be able to do this same thing at home,’” Dr. Schwartz said.

The first-of-its-kind class in the area was led by Dr. Sean Smarick with AVETS.

Although this training was in the works well before the death of Rocco, Schwartz says he thinks the tragedy drove up interest. He wishes the class would have taken place earlier.

“I don’t know the details of the case. I just have to wonder if maybe if someone had had this type of education, had this type of class before that episode, if the outcome may have been different,” Dr. Schwartz said.


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