BluePearl Helps Search and Recovery Dog Get Back to Work

BuzzBuzz, a 7-year-old chocolate Labrador retriever, had dropped 10 pounds in just five weeks and his owner, Sue Stejskal, was feeling increasingly helpless.

“That was what was most concerning to me,” said Stejskal. “I was watching my dog shrivel away.”

It was unusual to see Buzz being so lethargic. A certified detection dog, Buzz works for the St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Office in Michigan and specializes in the recovery of human remains. His job is to sniff out the faint smells that human forensic officers aren’t able to detect.

“When he works, he gives 100 percent,” said Stejskal, who is Buzz’s owner and handler.

Stejskal has extensive experience in the field. She has developed forensic science training for law enforcement canine handlers and is the author of Death, Decomposition, and Detector Dogs. She is also a certified veterinary technician and the founder of Recover K9, a nonprofit organization that provides financial support for the team’s services.

In addition to his work with the St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Office, Buzz is also a member of the Kalamazoo County Water Safety and Recovery Team, the Michigan Disaster Assistance Recovery Team and the Michigan Mortuary Operations Response Team.

Together, Buzz and Stejskal have provided training for K9 units and law enforcement agencies throughout Michigan and the United States. But at the moment, Stejskal’s primary concern was Buzz’s health. She feared he may have been suffering from cancer.

“It was really important that we figure out what was going on with him,” said Stejskal. “Once we could determine that, we would know whether to return him to service or to retire him.”

At the recommendation of her primary care veterinarian, Stejskal brought Buzz to the BluePearl Veterinary Partners hospital in Grand Rapids where he was seen by Dr. Kristopher Sharpe, the hospital’s medical directors.

An endoscopy revealed a stomach ulcer and inflammatory bowel disease, which both have a good prognosis. After starting treatment, Buzz began to improve.

“It was great to see his stamina return,” said Stejskal. “This is a dog who loves to work.”

Today, Buzz is back to his old self. In fact, Stejskal said she and  Buzz were able to participate in the U.S. Police K-9 Association regional certification trials, where the team  achieved a very high score.

“I’m just so grateful that Buzz was able to get such good care,” she said. “He’s a special dog.”