Chelan County Jail’s K9 Kait Battling Serious Health Issues
The narcotics and contraband detection dog at Chelan County Regional Jail (CCRJ) is not able to do her favorite thing; go to the jail every day with her partner Corrections Deputy Jacob Lewis.
K9 Officer Kait, a 7 year old Border Collie doesn't understand why Lewis leaves the house where she lives with the Lewis family, but she can't accompany him. Border Collies are considered to be the smartest breed in the canine world but Lewis says she does not understand that she is suffering from two conditions, a genetic disorder for vitamin B-12 deficiency known as (IGS) Imerslund-Grasbeck Syndrome and a serious fluid accumulation in her abdomen.
"when I put my equipment on and she hears jingling of the key she knows we're about to go to work and but she gives me that look when I'm walking out the door and I didn't put her vest on and she's tilting her head to the side like why do I have to stay? Why are you going? It's kind of heartbreaking and she's pretty much part of the family. She actually spends more time with me than my own family does"
A CT scan has revealed Kait has a very small liver and the main artery to her liver is shunted and blood flow is bypassing the liver. Kait's vets believe the toxins that would normally get filtered through the liver are now a byproduct in the fluid building up in her abdomen. More testing and liver biopsy results are due in about a week.
The IGS is treatable with B-12 supplements but the liver condition is potentially career-threatening.
Lewis says Kait is not in pain but the fluid accumulating is causing her discomfort adding about 17 pounds to her overall weight. The discomfort likely feels like gas or a full stomach, according to what Lewis has been told. She fatigues more easily and has some difficulty getting into Lewis' patrol vehicle.
Kait's vets have put her on limited duty to limit her activity. Lewis takes her to the CCRJ occasionally to spend time in his office while he completes paperwork but she is not doing searches.
"The biggest concern is is we don't know exactly what's going on or what's causing that fluid. So my priority is her safety". Lewis occupies Kait with letting her find training aids or light play with a toy. "I'll take her down in the jail because even though she's my family, my partner, she's still the other jail staffs partner too, so they're just as concerned".
Lewis says with Kait out of service, CCRJ staff are being extra vigilant for contraband and utilizing the facility's mail and body scanners.
The K9 program is community supported and relies on donations to cover program expenses for training, equipment and medical expenses which have taken a big bite out of the funds that have been given in the past.
Lewis explains the CCRJ does not fall under the Chelan County general budget like other county entities. The Regional Jail budget is funded separately through several sources including booking fees to the cities and counties where CCRJ is the jail of record. Like many canine units around the country, the CCRJ K9 program relies on donations and community support.