HomeNewsArticle Display

Military working dog revived by vet tech

Pako, the zombie dog

Pako, a five-and-a-half-year-old 96th Security Forces Squadron military working dog, suffered a heat stroke last year and died. The base veterinary clinic helped revive him and bring him back through CPR procedures. He beat almost insurmountable odds (for dogs) to survive heat stroke and CPR to make a full recovery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.)

Pako, the zombie dog

Sgt. Kelli Helfinstine, base veterinary technician, gives Pako, 96th Security Forces Squadron military working dog, a scratch on the head after her Air Force Achievement Medal ceremony Feb. 6, 2018, at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Helfinstine was awarded the medal for her efforts in saving Pako’s life when he suffered a heat stroke and almost died in June 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.)

Pako, the zombie dog

Staff Sgt. Radames Leon and Pako are a 96th Security Forces Squadron military working dog team at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Last year, on a hostile suspect exercise, Pako suffered a heat stroke and almost lost his life. The base veterinary clinic helped revive him and bring him back through CPR procedures. He beat almost insurmountable odds (for dogs) to survive heat stroke and CPR to make a full recovery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.)

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) -- The dog lay on the table struggling to breathe in the throes of a severe heat stroke. Pako, 96th Security Forces Squadron military working dog, thrashed around wildly. His vital signs were fading fast. At one point, his pulse vanished. Pako’s heart stopped.

This was the scene of the emergency Army Sgt. Kelli Helfinstine and the base veterinary clinic personnel faced one hot day in June 2017.

“This was the most severe heat injury I have encountered,” said Helfinstine, who recently received an Air Force Achievement Medal for her valiant efforts to save Pako’s life. “I just thought, this animal needs oxygen, we need to get him oxygen.”

Pako and his handler, Staff Sgt. Radames Leon, were participating in a hostile suspect exercise. The five-and-a-half-year-old K-9 searched, but was unable to find his target. He pressed on, unwilling to give up the hunt. His body temperature began to rise at an uncontrollable rate.

Pako showed no signs of heat injury, but did appear overly exerted, according to Tech. Sgt. Bryan Bowermaster, Eglin AFB’s kennel master. Leon took the dog’s temperature, which read 105, the average working temperature for the Belgian Malinoise’s breed.

“These military working breeds are very high drive and will work themselves to death if allowed,” said Helfinstine. “Heat injury is very serious and can progress quickly. He was probably fine initially, but continued to get hotter.”

The training was cancelled and the MWD team returned to the kennel. It was then that Pako showed clear signs of distress and heat stroke.

He was immediately rushed to the veterinary clinic. The technicians provided oxygen and tried to cool Pako down while waiting for the veterinarian, Capt. Ashley Hydrick, to arrive. At this point, Pako was in severe respiratory distress and approaching cardiac arrest.

In the midst of the breathing and cooling procedures, Pako’s heart stopped beating.

“I will never forget the moment I saw Pako’s life slip away,” said Bowermaster, a MWD handler for seven years. “His pupils dilated to a point where you could no longer see the brown of his eyes.”

For approximately 10 minutes, Hydrick and others performed chest compressions, while Helfinstine administered the oxygen ventilation. Then, unexpectedly, Pako’s pulse returned.

“I was so relieved when he stabilized,” said Helfinstine, a 10-year vet tech. “I felt like I could finally breathe too. I could tell everyone was relieved. I continued to monitor his vitals and ensured he was getting the oxygen he needed.”

Pako had not only defied the almost insurmountable odds of a dog surviving a heat stroke, but he also recovered via CPR, another extremely rare feat, according to Helfinstine.

When he stabilized, Pako was sent to the emergency clinic in Pensacola, Florida, for his follow-on care. When a large enough vehicle was coordinated, the handlers escorted their partner to the clinic. Hydrick and Helfinstine accompanied their patient on his journey providing fluids and monitoring his progress. The mutual opinions of the technicians and handlers was that Pako probably would not make it through the night.

Staff Sgt. Shane Massie, Pako’s first handler and now Eglin AFB’s MWD trainer, stayed with the dog that night in intensive care.

Pako survived the night. The following day he was removed from the ICU and was up and about although a little wobbly, according to Bowermaster.

“That dog’s spirit kept him alive, kept him going,” said Bowermaster.

Pako spent three days recovering in Pensacola. Because he is a military asset, an Airman had to be with him at all times.

For Leon, Massie and the other MWD handlers even if they weren't directed to stay, they all said they’d have been there for him regardless.

“There’s a personal relationship that forms between us and these dogs,” said Leon, who’s been Pako’s handler for approximately a year now. “We can’t help but create a bond, a partnership, with them.”

Upon returning to Eglin Air Force Base, Pako went into an eight-week rehabilitation program that slowly reintegrated him into his training regime. He is now playfully referred to around the kennel as the “zombie dog.”

“Pako is now back and better than ever,” said Bowermaster. “He works just as hard now as he did before his injury.”

Engage

Facebook Twitter
DYK: Aircraft have lifespans! Like humans, they require check-ups in the form of maintenance inspections to prolong their ability to fly. These "checks" prevent in-flight system failures which ultimately protects aircrew and passengers. Learn more from the 86th Maintenance Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany on what it takes to correct issues so aircraft can stay airborne.
WATCH: United States Air Force pilots talk about the importance of Exercise Saber Strike 18 as they refuel over the Baltic Sea on June 18, 2018. Saber Strike 18 is a long-standing training exercise designed to enhance interoperability between the U.S. and our allies. The training focused on improving land and air operational capabilities between the U.S. and our NATO allies. (U.S. Air National Guard video by: Master Sgt. Wolfram M. Stumpf)
Check out some shots from yesterday's All-Star Armed Services Classic Championship softball game in Washington, D.C. This event, part of MLB’s All-Star Week, pays tribute to the men and women of the Armed Forces. Washington Nationals U.S. Army
Air Force and U.S. Army coed softball teams render military honors during the playing of the National Anthem during the All-Star Armed Services Classic Championship softball game, Washington, D.C., July 13, 2018. This event, part of MLB’s All-Star Week, pays tribute to the men and women of the Armed Forces. Washington Nationals
Great way to lead by example!
The United States Air Force is facing a pilot shortage. To help solve the challenge, the Aircrew Crisis Task Force was recently created to provide strategic direction and actionable recommendations to senior leaders on how to solve the aircrew manning crisis. FULL STORY: https://go.usa.gov/xUb3z
Your United States Air Force news: ✓ A B-52 crew assists in a search and rescue operation off the coast of Guam ✓ An Afghan pilot class graduates in the Czech Republic ✓ The Air Force is using innovative approaches to training pilots to make the process faster and more efficient
Now that’s how weathermen work! Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters fly weather reconnaissance missions into Tropical Storm Chris and Tropical Storm Beryl. http://www.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/1569944/hurricane-hunters-fly-tropical-storms-beryl-chris/
The F-22 Raptor's combination of stealth, supercruise, maneuverability, and integrated avionics, coupled with improved supportability, represents an exponential leap in warfighting capabilities. The F-22 cannot be matched by any known or projected fighter aircraft. Maintaining these aircraft can involve a bit of a learning curve. Airmen at KadenaAirBase use past technology to help learn how to work with the undefeated Raptor. FULL STORY: http://www.kadena.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/1567295/hard-to-raptor-head-around/
Help us out! Can you caption this photo?
The B-52 Stratofortress has sniper pods that provide improved long-range target detection/identification and continuous stabilize surveillance for all missions, including close air support of ground forces. Air Force Global Strike Command crew members on a B-52 were able to spot a historic Pacific Island style canoe so that the U.S. Coast Guard could rescue the six passengers!
For the past 60 years, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, has continually helped us maintain a technological edge against our advarsaries. Together with the Air Force Research Laboratory - AFRL, a fusion of ideas is leading to newly highlighted innovations.
SOUND ON! Celebrate freedom with the sound of freedom! Happy Independence Day!
During #ASC18, our #Airmen asked: Where are we today on developing new space operators & where will we be in the ne… https://t.co/a3IGP2gpnt
During #ASC18, our #Airmen asked: How do you see multi-domain command & control integrating with our allies?… https://t.co/GzyNIWKaWg
RT @AFResearchLab: Our team is showing off how fantastic our booth is this year! So come meet us at #booth601 for knowledge on what we do a…
RT @US_Stratcom: Gen Hyten: “All of our oaths start the same way, we swear an oath to the #Constitution, to a set of ideals written down on…
#ICYMI: @SecAFOfficial discussed the significance of the 70th Anniversary of the #BerlinAirlift during a commemorat… https://t.co/MLP7m1A1d1
.@SecAFOfficial: In his time, Billy Mitchell was the advocate for the #USAF we need. Now it's up to us -- all of us… https://t.co/5nfk096dpw
.@SecAFOfficial: I want to thank all of you for what you are doing to build a more lethal & ready #USAF, to field t… https://t.co/dVv7UUM3RI
.@SecAFOfficial: Over the past 6 months, #USAF acquisition has striped 56 yrs out of planned schedules in our acqui… https://t.co/6FgjTGUeVn
.@SecAFOfficial: By December of this year we will have closed that gap to zero. #ASC18
.@SecAFOfficial: In September of 2016, the #USAF was short 4,000 maintainers. #ASC18
.@SecAFOfficial: We have an obligation to our countrymen. To tell them, as those before us have done in their time,… https://t.co/xYAyI4NPe5
.@SecAFOfficial: The #USAF we need to implement the National Defense Strategy has 386 Operational Squadrons. #ASC18 https://t.co/tuoryyPTXF
.@SecAFOfficial: So, What will it take? 386. #ASC18
.@SecAFOfficial: The #USAF is too small for what the nation expects of us. 312 Operational Squadrons is not enough. #ASC18
#LIVE: @SecAFOfficial talks the "Air Force We Need" during the 2018 Air, Space and Cyber Conference. #ASC18https://t.co/F67IXy9mQQ