CALGARY — Two paramedics are being investigated after giving a dying dog painkillers as he sat unable to move in the middle of a street, his owner refusing to leave his side.
Off-duty RCMP corporal Keith Blake needed medical assistance after his pet dog Justice, a German shepherd, was hit by a garbage truck on April 1.
In horrific pain from open fractures and bleeding profusely, the dog lashed out as his owner tried to help him, resulting in broken fingers and bad bite wounds.
“(The paramedics) couldn’t deal with me because every time I moved, Justice would try to get up,” said Blake, who is off work while his injuries heal.
“I didn’t even feel anything because my dog was going through so much pain ... and the only way to move him was to sedate him.”
The paramedics were worried the nine-year-old canine, who had never bitten anyone before, would hurt someone else trying to help.
Faced with a scenario they had never encountered before, the paramedics decided to give Justice painkillers.
Blake said he has nothing but accolades for their compassionate actions.
“They were obviously there to treat me but they also helped Justice,” he said Friday.
“It was heartbreaking ... but everybody was very supportive and professional and did an amazing job.”
Justice’s pain subsided enough for bylaw workers to take him to a vet, where he was euthanized.
EMS chief Stuart Brideaux said there is no protocol for treating animals and a paramedic’s priority is to care for people, adding the incident warrants investigation as “an opportunity for learning.”
“It wouldn’t be inappropriate to do some first aid,” he allowed. “It comes down to the discretion of the crew, on a case-by-case basis.”
Rick Fraser, president of Local 3421 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, said he hopes the paramedics face no penalties for the doing “the right thing.”
Fraser noted that horrified bystanders and an off-duty nurse were trying to comfort the dying dog and the police officer as children filed out of a nearby school.
The truck’s driver was also at the scene.
“They limited the dog bite to one person,” Fraser said, adding the paramedics didn’t take the decision lightly.
“They were on the telephone with a vet walking them through to make sure they had the correct dosage.
“Clearly, our No. 1 concern is for the patient but when the patient refuses to be looked at because they are worried about their dog, you have to do what’s best to treat the patient.”
Meanwhile, bylaw officials said the city is looking at hiring a full-time veterinarian who could offer more options for officers dealing with injured or aggressive pets in the community.
Spokesman Bill Bruce said a vet would be handy in dealing with pets in car crashes, animals at large or where animals have bitten people or animals.
Bruce also said his department is looking into a bylaw officer’s decision to take Justice to a vet with emergency equipment activated on his vehicle.
“He transported lights and sirens and broke protocol,” Bruce said.
The bylaw officer is a former British policeman and trained dog handler.
“He knew the dog was a goner and couldn’t bear to see him suffer, it was a judgment call to get it to the vet as soon as possible,” said Bruce.
He said officers are trained to make quick decisions on a case-by-case basis but it is prudent to review the choice to break the rules to determine if it was warranted.