Program could help K-9 officers lead fuller lives after duty

Richwood Police Department

A stream of red and blue lights guided a law enforcement procession to a veterinary clinic in Marysvile where dozens of law enforcement officers gathered to give a final salute to retired Richwood Police Department K-9 Klink.

The dog's human partner, Officer Eric Nicholson, lifted Klink from the back of his cruiser and carried the K9, draped in a blue line flag, past dozens of uniformed law enforcement officers standing in salute.

Klink retired from law enforcement with five herniated discs, and eventually lost the use of his hind legs. Veterinarians estimated the dog wouldn't survive another 30 days.

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Ryan Venturine, who founded MWDK9 admitted the prognosis was grim.

"This was my first case of, oh, this doesn't look good," said Venturine.

MWDK9 provides preventative and healing physical therapy for law enforcement K-9's.

Venturine said Klink first underwent aggressive laser therapy, and after he started to regain the use of his legs, the K-9 was introduced to hydrotherapy, essentially, swimming, to build strength.

Venturine said Klink was walking again and said the K9 began to feel like his old self.

"He started to build his back end strength. He could start playing ball, on a different level, in the back yard, but look there's my ball, I can actually go after it now, instead of 'I'm sliding,'" said Venturine.

The physical therapy would buy Klink and his human family nine more months of quality life together until goodbye became inevitable.

Venturine hopes Klink's journey will expose the physical toll the job takes on these K-9 officers.

"If nothing else, 70-pounds jumping in the cruiser, out of the cruiser, in the cruiser, out of the cruiser, how many times? They don't have Nikes," said Venturine.

He said he hopes more communities will consider wellness programs to treat and prevent injuries, so K-9's like Klink can enjoy retirement.

"You did the job, you've earned the retirement," insisted Venturine.

Venturine has also created a non-profit organization called K9s 4 America, which helps provide service dogs to veterans and law enforcement officers.