K-9 Officer Blitz, a 5-year-old German shepherd/Belgian Malinois mix with the Sanger Police Department, was performing routine training exercises with his handler and partner Corporal Brandon Coles when tragedy struck. While retrieving an item from under a car, Blitz caught his eye socket on the tailpipe, causing extensive damage. As Blitz bled profusely from around his right eye, Coles rushed him to a local veterinary clinic.
After stabilizing Blitz, the clinic instructed Coles to immediately get him to the ophthalmology specialists at the UC Davis veterinary hospital, some 200 miles away. Coles loaded Blitz into his cruiser and sped to Davis.
Board-certified ophthalmologist Dr. David Maggs and resident Dr. Ann Cooper awaited Blitz’s arrival and performed an emergency evaluation of his eyelid damage. They found severe lacerations to both the upper and lower eyelids and surrounding tissue, which would need surgical intervention. Remarkably, the eye itself was visual and healthy, with no signs of trauma.
Blitz was hospitalized and his eyelids were repaired with sutures beneath and above the skin surface. His tear ducts were also flushed during the procedure, and no damage to these structures was noted.
A few hours after the surgery, the K-9 officer was discharged to a relieved Coles.
“I see a tail wagging,” said Coles when first reunited with Blitz. “That’s always a good sign.”
Ophthalmologists expect Blitz to have normal function of both eyelids once his surgery sites are healed in about two weeks. Until then, he will have to curtail his activities and get some much-needed rest.
Imported from Slovakia when he was 1, Blitz has been with the Sanger Police Department since 2014. He is trained in narcotics detection, handler protection, criminal apprehension and building searches. Blitz lives full time with Coles, who has been with the department for 17 years.
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