K-9 TikTok star survives surgery after being shot twice
K-9 Arlo's handler and his millions of fans were relieved to hear he's on the road to recovery
By Jim Day
Albany Democrat-Herald, Ore.
THURSTON COUNTY, Wash. — A Washington state police dog is recovering at Oregon State University after surgery for bullet wounds incurred Wednesday during a police chase.
Arlo, a 3-year-old German shepherd, is part of the K-9 unit with the Thurston County Sheriff's Office. Arlo was shot twice during Wednesday's incident, with veterinarians in Chehalis, Washington, treating a leg wound before rushing the dog to Corvallis because of a bullet that was lodged near his spine.
Arlo went through eight hours of complex surgery on Friday, with Dr. Jen Warnock, an OSU orthopedic veterinary surgeon, tackling the bone damage to his vertebrae and colleague Dr. Katy Townsend working on the soft tissue issues. Dr. Sandra Allweiler handled the anesthesia.
"It's a miracle that Arlo's still alive," Warnock said. "The C6 vertebra was shattered. The bullet missed an artery that would've killed him by a millimeter. It could've destroyed his carotid artery. He's unlucky but lucky at the same time."
The OSU team found that the bullet had tracked all the way through Arlo's shoulder, taking a chip off his shoulder joint before landing in his neck. The bullet mushroomed inside his body and dragged hair, dirt and debris deep into the tissue, which required extensive and careful cleaning to minimize the risk of infection. The team fused his C6 and C7 vertebrae with six screws and surgical cement.
Arlo's doctors said they planned to keep him in the hospital ICU over the weekend to monitor him and that he still has a long recovery ahead of him.
"The shoulder that had all the bullet damage is the weakest," Warnock said. "He's still weak, but he's improving by leaps and bounds."
Because of the damage to his neck and shoulders, Arlo will likely have arthritis, which could compromise his reaction time and safety in the field, so he will not be returning to active duty. His handler is Thurston County Deputy Tyler Turpin.
"He's an amazing dog," said Sgt. Rod Ditrich, the Thurston K-9 unit supervisor. "He's just so enthusiastic and he's one of our most vocal, energetic dogs that we've got — he just is always happy, wants to please, just an amazing animal. Super easy to train.
"He lives for the job — that's all he wants to do is please Deputy Turpin and perform the job of a police K-9. We just want what's best for Arlo."
The K-9 unit at Thurston County is paid for entirely through community donations. A GoFundMe page that has been created to pay for Arlo's medical bills already had raised more than $73,000 dollars by Saturday afternoon. Go to https://tinyurl.com/y3tf5f4t. to contribute.
(c)2021 Albany Democrat-Herald, Ore.