(FL - US) Four-legged officers' best friend
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Tue Jun 17 19:49:23 EDT 2003
Four-legged officers' best friend
> Like his father before him, Land O'Lakes veterinarian Roy Brooks keeps the
By EBONY WINDOM, Times Staff Writer© St. Petersburg Times
published June 16, 2003
LAND O'LAKES - Dr. Roy Brooks waited at his Land O'Lakes clinic, expecting
the worst when he saw the sheriff's helicopter land with a patient named Cliff
Some call Cliff a hero for his actions when a routine traffic stop June 2
turned into a struggle between a Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy and an
angry driver. Cliff, weighing in at 84 pounds, helped the deputy in her fight with
the male suspect alongside Interstate 4.
When the suspect's pickup truck later took off with the man wounded inside,
Cliff dashed after it, into the road.
That's when a semitrailer truck slammed into Cliff as it zoomed down the
highway. Cliff softened the blow by tucking himself into the rig's wheel well,
where he tumbled like clothing in a dryer.
Then, he lay stiff, bruised and bleeding until help arrived. He was airlifted
to Brooks' clinic, Cypress Creek Animal Hospital.
That's because Cliff is a 4-year-old German shepherd. He is a member of the
Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office K-9 unit and was injured in the line of
Brooks' clinic boasts more than 10,000 cat, dog and goat clients, and he also
specializes in police dogs.
When Scooby the German shepherd or Ruby the bloodhound gets sick, the
Hillsborough Sheriff's Office calls Dr. Brooks. Its K-9 unit has trusted Brooks for
18 years to provide medical care to all 19 of its dogs. The full-service clinic
performs routine teeth cleanings, checkups and X-rays to keep the police dogs
in top shape.
K-9 Sgt. Mark Olive says Brooks goes out of his way to meet the needs of his
"That's the reason he's our vet," Olive said. "We called him at 1 in the
morning. There's no predictor as to when our dogs will be hurt. He's dedicated to
Brooks is a second generation K-9 vet. His father, Dr. Henry Palmer Brooks
Sr., provided medical care to Hillsborough County police dogs years ago.
Aside from his veterinary medicine background, Brooks says there's no special
training needed to care for police dogs - just a good dose of common sense.
"I respect them," Brooks said. "The animals know that I'm not afraid of them.
I don't make direct eye contact with them. They will attack. These are very
dominating dogs. They need that personality to do their job well with
Like a sheriff's deputy, a police dog endures intense and specialized
training, Olive said. Cliff's case proves that sometimes their job can be risky.
The dogs are used to "keep the deputy from being in a position of
vulnerability." Some police dogs are trained to aid in narcotics and explosives
detection. Others use keen scent discrimination to track down missing people or
criminals, Olive said.
"The dogs and their handlers are an experienced team," Olive said. "They are
capable of so much. It's important to keep them (the dogs) well-oiled, so to
speak. We get them everything to keep them viable for a long time."
Cliff returned to work last week, two days after his release from the clinic.
He suffered swelling and bruising from the accident.
"The limp is even gone now," Brooks said. "He is just a very fortunate dog.
That dog knows no fear."
Cliff's handler, Deputy Charlotte Rashke, is thankful to have her pal by her
side again, Olive said.
"They (police dogs) are a fantastic asset to this community," Brooks said.
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