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October 24, 2021

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Kato still on medical leave, but is improving daily

Bluffton police K9 suffers from a collapsed lung

And, now for some good news.

Kato, Bluffton police department’s K9, is chomping at the bit to return to work, according to Tyler Hochstetler, member of the department and his handler.

Currently on sick leave, the dog showed signs of an illness in March.

“I took him to the vet because of his lethargic state,” Hochstetler wrote in a letter to Bluffton council on March 27. “ The physician's exam, blood work and X-ray concluded that Kato is suffering from a pneumothorax (collapsed lung).

This week, Hochstetler told the Icon that Kato is doing well. 

“He’s improving every day, which is what the veterinarian wants to see,” he said.  

“Unfortunately, the recovery from a spontaneous pneumothorax is a slow process as we have to wait until the air pocket around his lung dissipates. 

“We’ll be following up with the vet  to determine what course of action needs taken next and hopefully we’ll get a better idea of when he’ll be cleared to return to work.

“For right now, we’re allowed to play ball, which is his most favorite thing, until he gets tired then we have to stop. 

“We’ve also been taking him on short walks to help boost his immune system."

Collapsed lung
This occurs when air leaks into the space between the lung and the chest wall. The air pushes on the outside of the lung and collapses the lung. Most pneumothorax cases involve some sort of penetrating trauma.

Hochstetler said that Kato has not experiences any trauma, which left the veterinarian confused, adding that there are spontaneous cases that do affect dogs.

The healing of a pneumothorax is a slow process. However, Kato has been on a combination of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications to assist in the healing process.

Here’s what Kato accomplished in 2019
Kato involved in numerous police-related duties in 2019. Here’s in an overview of Kato’s accomplishments:
• numerous vehicle sniffs for illegal drugs,
• a school sniff at McComb schools,
• a successful track of a suicidal subject,
•  a track for armed robbery suspects resulting in the location of evidence during the track,  
• and logging over 192 hours of state mandated maintenance training.

During one vehicle sniff in particular, K9 Kato alerted on a vehicle and a subsequent search of the vehicle produced 78.43 grams of crystal methamphetamine, 2.94 grams of fentanyl and .18 grams of a methamphetamine/fentanyl mixture. All felony level amounts of illegal narcotics.

During another vehicle sniff, K9 Kato alerted on a vehicle which, after a subsequent search, resulted in locating 16.5 grams of marijuana concentrate, another felony level drug seizure.

K9 Kato was requested to respond to the Clark gas station on Bluelick Road in rural Allen County after the clerk was robbed at gunpoint.

Allen County requested K9 Kato for a track of the suspects. During the track, it was determined the suspects had gotten in a vehicle and left, however K9 Kato was able to locate three stolen items along the path of the track that were collected and used as evidence.

On June 28, K9 Kato’s birthday, he was called in on his day off to track a missing, suicidal person near the Bluffton University nature preserve. The suspect had harmed himself near the “Swinging Bridge” and officers did not pursue due to the erratic and potentially dangerous behavior the subject was displaying.

After an Allen County deputy observed the suspect run into the thick, wooded area of the nature preserve, K9 Kato was deployed on a track through the thick vegetation and swampy area and ultimately located the subject hiding behind a tree.  

In December, K9 Kato had just returned home from a monthly maintenance training when a pursuit, initiated by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, went by the village.

K9 Kato and Hochstetler joined in the pursuitof the suspect, who stole a motorhome and ran from the police. The pursuit ended at the S.R. 309 exit in Lima. After a standoff of approximately 30 minutes, the suspect gave up and surrendered to police. K9 Kato was used to clear the rest of the motorhome the suspect had stolen.