Thanks to Israel’s only board-certified veterinary dentist and oral surgeon, an injured canine peacekeeper was healed and returned to full duty sniffing out explosives in the Sinai desert just south of Israel’s border.
Dano, a highly trained seven-year-old Malinois (short-haired Belgian shepherd dog), served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan with the US army. While in Afghanistan, Dano was wounded in action and suffered a fractured left upper canine tooth (fang).
He was treated with a root canal and filling, and re-assigned to the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in the Sinai, an independent international organization assigned to peacekeeping responsibilities associated with Israel and Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty.
In April, the tooth was again broken and Dano needed immediate medical attention because of the exposed nerve.
Luckily for Dano, the MFO recently established a collaboration with the Veterinary Teaching Hospital (http://ksvm.agri.huji.ac.il/en) (VTH) in Rishon Lezion, where students of the Hebrew University’s Koret School of Veterinary Medicine receive their clinical training. Dano traveled there on a Black Hawk helicopter accompanied by a doctor, veterinarian and his military dog handler, Staff Sgt. John Breyer.
The animal hospital is staffed by more than 45 veterinarians, including internationally and nationally recognized specialists. Among them is Dr. Yoav Bar-Am, the only board-certified veterinary dentist and oral surgeon in Israel.
Bar-Am put Dano under general anesthesia and examined his dental radiographs and mouth. He found that although Dano’s tooth had fractured and the filling was lost, the previous root canal remained intact. So he re-shaped the contour of the tooth, smoothed the sharp edges of the fracture line, and prepared and placed a composite filling that matched the tooth’s natural color.
“For a working dog, we attempt to do heroic things to save the tooth, so they can continue to go about their jobs,” said Bar-Am, who has operated on American and Israeli working dogs in both the United States and Israel.
Breyer, who has been paired with Dano for four years, agreed. “The standard for these dogs is to have a high level of care,” he said.
Dano and his peacekeeping team were able to go back to their duties in the Sinai later the same day.
“We accomplished our goals, the plan was tested and Dano got the care he needed,” said Capt. Miranda Andress, the force veterinarian for the MFO.