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K-9 officer needs help for heartworm treatment

PIPESTONE -- A Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force agent will be out of commission for several weeks after a parasite was discovered in her heart. The furry agent, named Sassy, is the agency's only full-time K-9 officer. "She's a narcotics dog," descri...

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PIPESTONE - A Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force agent will be out of commission for several weeks after a parasite was discovered in her heart.

The furry agent, named Sassy, is the agency’s only full-time K-9 officer.
“She’s a narcotics dog,” described her handler and BRDTF agent, Edison Dengler. “She is the only K-9 that works exclusively with the Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force.”
Serving the counties of Murray, Nobles, and Pipestone, the 2½-year-old Belgian Malinois has worked out of the Pipestone County Sheriff’s Office since 2014, but her recent annual examination revealed that she is infected with heartworm.
According to the American Heartworm Society, the disease is transferred by mosquitoes that carry heartworm larvae from an infected host to another animal. Over the following six months, the tissue-dwelling larvae mature into adult worms and move into the heart, lungs and blood vessels. Though dogs are the natural hosts of the parasite, other pets, such as cats and ferrets, can also become infected.
After Sassy’s initial diagnosis, she received additional assessments at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center.
“We brought her to the University of Minnesota to have a cardiologist check her out and make sure there is no other damage to her organs,” Dengler said. These results were encouraging, he added, as no internal deterioration was found and only a single worm was identified in Sassy’s heart.
On May 17, Sassy began a 271-day treatment through Pipestone Veterinary Services. Designed by the American Heartworm Society, the process includes multiple medications and injections, as well as continued veterinary examinations.
“She will be working with us in limited capacity for the first 60 days of treatment,” explained Dengler. “After that, she will be kenneled for four to eight weeks to limit movement and prevent the dying worms from blocking any blood vessels.”

Though heartworm can be deadly, Sassy is expected to make a full recovery and return to work with the BRDTF, serving the three counties in which it presides.
“We started a GoFundMe page, and we hope that people will help with the cost of her treatment and kenneling,” said Dengler.
The fundraising page can be found at www.gofundme.com/24Qhx6s , and other donations can be dropped off at the Murray, Nobles, or Pipestone County sheriff’s offices.

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