Prosthetic leg readied for retired K-9 officer
EAST LIVERPOOL — City Patrolman Chad Tatgenhorst and his now-retired K-9 partner Ivo was in Virginia this week where the 7-year-old Belgian malinois was fitted for a prosthesis to replace the front leg he lost following a training accident.
After breaking his elbow in September while water training at Gretchen’s Lock, Ivo underwent extensive surgery which repaired the break, but unfortunately, infection set in, necessitating the amputation of his leg and into his shoulder blade. This resulted in Ivo being retired from the police force.
Although Ivo has bounced back and learned how to maneuver quite well on three legs, Tatgenhorst said he has been showing some signs of stress on his remaining front leg from bearing the weight of his body, with some swelling being evident.
When the non-profit organization Back The Blue K-9 Force out of Colorado heard about Ivo, representatives reached out to Tatgenhorst about what needs his partner might need. The organization raises funds for the safety and medical needs of K-9 officers.
After locating what co-founder Diane Lewis called an “amazing bionic leg maker,” Dr. Derrick Campana, the group arranged for Tatgenhorst to meet him to determine what might be best for Ivo. Tatgenhorst said he and Ivo will be driving to Virginia and meet Monday with Campana to have a mold made so the prosthesis can be made.
The prosthesis will attach to Ivo’s chest and across his back.
Tatgenhorst said he knows Ivo will enjoy the trip to Virginia, saying his partner loves to ride in the car.
A GoFundMe account has been established for Ivo, with nearly $3,000 of a $10,000 goal raised thus far. The actual cost of the prosthesis has not been disclosed, but Lewis said any fund left will go toward any additional medical needs Ivo has in the future. All funds raised go directly to the East Liverpool Patrolman’s Association for Ivo.
While the city has insurance coverage on Ivo, there has been some discrepancy about whether or not the company is willing to pay for his medical expenses.
Ivo was born Aug. 18, 2011 in Holland and lost the tip of his ear as a puppy when attacked by an adult dog. He was trained there and then at Shallow Creek Kennels in Sharon, Pa., joining the ELPD five years ago. During his career as a K-9 officer, among his accomplishments were locating $18,000 in cash with drug residue on it, leading Tatgenhorst to a house where they located two men who had been breaking into cars, locating a gun a suicidal man threw into a parking lot and locating a bullet casing after a shooting.
He was purchased, trained, vetted and otherwise maintained with donations from the community, including recent T-shirt sales to pay for his extensive medical bills from his leg injury and amputation.
Those interested in donating to the GoFundMe campaign for Ivo can go to www.gofundme.com/prosthesis-for-le-k9.
The prosthesis will not enable Ivo to return to work at the ELPD, but will help prevent future damage to his remaining legs.