Tuesday, one of the Tulsa fire department's search and rescue dogs is home recovering after spending two weeks in Tennessee for special surgery.
Venus and her handler Jeff Leon have been together for nearly six years. Leon said he's happy to have her back home.
“She’s my girl. She’s my partner and with her not having the surgery being able to come back to work I would have been devastated," said Leon.
Venus works with Leon on the Oklahoma Task Force One and has been on several deployments. Leon noticed something wrong with Venus when the two got home from Hurricane Ida.
“She wouldn’t put pressure on that left leg. She wouldn’t walk on it. So it was basically walking on three legs," said Leon.
The vet discovered she tore a ligament and needed surgery. Leon found a specialist in Tennessee and began raising money.
“So when he went in to do surgery he said she had a little bit of arthritis also, but said, for the most part, it’s really, really rare for dogs that do search and rescue to get hurt," said Leon.
Venus has already started rehab exercises and Leon massages her leg several times a day. He is hoping to have her back at work soon.
“She’ll also go out in the wilderness and look for people that are missing. In a disaster say a building collapse these dogs are unreplaceable. There is no tool out there that can do what these dogs do," said Leon.
The department has 13 search and rescue dogs. Venus is one of the veteran dogs and Leon said she has a special nickname.
“She’s one of the biggest ones we have. She’s ruthless. We call her the bulldozer because she just runs and doesn’t stop. She traverses the pile like one of the little dogs. So she does a good job," said Leon.
The fire department started a GoFundMe page for Venus and say:
"Our handlers and their dogs work and train tirelessly to be ready to serve our community in the event of a disaster. However, the handlers get no monetary reimbursement for any veterinary expenses that are incurred by the canines. OK-TF1 graciously covered the cost of the down payment for Venus's surgery. However, a balance of $3,400 still remains. Our goal is to ease the financial burden on the handler as much as possible. We greatly appreciate any amount donated!"