K-9 treated for cancer reunited with handler

FRANKLIN, Tenn. –  As a K-9 for the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, Ethel saved dozens of adults and children using her keen sense of smell. So when the bloodhound developed a mysterious lump on her snout, her handler was immediately concerned.

It was a Stage 1 cancerous tumor. But thanks to the kindness of the community, the dedication of her handler and doctors from BluePearl Veterinary Partners, Ethel is now on the mend.

Deputy Michael Romans and Ethel.

Deputy Michael Romans and Ethel.

“She’s getting back to her old self again,” said Deputy Michael Romans, Ethel’s handler and owner.  “She’s still a little sore, but she’s getting better every day.”

Romans first noticed the bump on Ethel’s nose in early September. Diagnosed as a nasal carcinoma, her veterinarian recommended she undergo radiation treatment at the BluePearl hospital in Sandy Springs, Ga.

As a provider of specialty and emergency veterinary care, BluePearl has the board-certified veterinarians and advanced equipment necessary to treat complex illnesses like Ethel’s cancer.

Due to her condition, Ethel could no longer work. That meant Romans had to shoulder the cost of care by himself. He set up a GoFundMe page, and the community quickly responded, donating more than his target goal of $5,200.

Ethel underwent 16 radiation treatments at the Sandy Springs hospital under the care of Dr. Nathan Lee, a board-certified radiation oncologist.  For each of the treatments, Ethel was put under anesthesia, and then a machine directed high-energy radiation to the tumor from multiple angles.

“The difference between hitting the tumor or missing it is just millimeters, so it’s important that she doesn’t move,” Lee said.

Ethel responded well to her treatment and is now back in Tennessee with Romans. She’s receiving regular check-ups from Dr. Pamela Lucas, a board-certified veterinary oncologist at the BluePearl hospital in Franklin.

Ethel getting treatment at BluePearl in Sandy Springs, Ga.

Ethel getting treatment at BluePearl in Sandy Springs, Ga.

Dr. Lucas is examining Ethel to monitor for any re-growth of the tumor, to see if she’s experiencing any nosebleeds or bleeding from her mouth and to assess her general health.

“She does have a little scabbing on her nose and some sores on the roof of her mouth from the radiation,” Dr. Lucas said. “But overall she looks very good.”

Romans said he’s grateful to have his beloved partner back. Since she returned from Georgia, he’s been taking her around town to visit members of the community who know and love her from her time at the Sheriff’s Office.

“She is as sweet as can be. Never meets a stranger,” Romans said. “And I think she’s enjoying being spoiled just a little bit.”