Down, not out: K-9 Yara starts road to recovery following surgery

Mike Moore photo
Glenrock Police Department handler Bill Frieda has Yara search the back of a GPD vehicle during a training exercise at town park earlier this summer. The Belgian Malinois went in for surgery recently and will be out of service for a few months while rehabilitating her left hind leg after injuring her ACL and meniscus.

Mike Moore

It all began at a training with the Casper Police Department at the end of April. Yara, a 4-year-old Belgian Malinois the Glenrock Police Department, had been utilized in searching out area drugs for two years but suddenly wasn’t acting like herself.
“She came up laying on her left leg,” current K-9 handler and GPD officer Bill Frieda said.
Concerned with what he had witnessed, Frieda set up an appointment with Crossroads Veterinary Services, who believed the dog had soft tissue damage.
With that, Frieda did what he could from home to exercise Yara through the injury and things got better for a while. Then, her leg progressively got worse and worse leading up to Frieda and Yara’s trip to Louisiana where the handler was to get his certification as the new handler for GPD.
“We came back four weeks ago and she came up laying on her leg; she wouldn’t put any weight on it,” he said.
Knowing the issue was more severe than just tissue damage, Frieda got a second opinion upon visiting Smylie Animal Clinic, who referred him to Colorado State University for a procedure called a TPLO, or tibial-plateau-leveling osteotomy at the renowned veterinary operation CSU has in Fort Collins.
“We went Aug. 9 for an assessment and she got blood work done,” Frieda noted.
The results of the initial assessment showed that Yara had a definite ACL tear, but didn’t know the extent of the damage until surgery the following day.
While in surgery on Aug. 10, they discovered Yara had a complete ACL tear and partial meniscus tear.
“They repaired those and we are now on the road to recovery,” Frieda said.
A normal, everyday dog is expected to recover from a surgery like this in five to six months. Since Yara is a working dog, Frieda is was told he could increase her therapy to in turn decrease her recovery time.
The biggest concern is the bone that was cut out for the surgery. It needs six to eight weeks to heal, and it needs to do so before Yara can put much weight on it. At this point, they are looking at the dog recovering by November and being back on the streets.
As the dog’s handler, Frieda says he is responsible for therapy with Yara, which can be time-consuming but necessary.
“It’s pretty taxing as a handler,” he said. “I’m on a rotation of sleep, work, (giving) her meds and therapy,” he said. “It’s a lot of work with her right now, but it’s worth it.”
They’ve weighed options of utilizing a physical therapy outfit in Casper to help Yara even more, but Frieda hasn’t had an opportunity to check in on it just yet. So far, Yara is making progress.
“She’s doing really well now. . . the swelling is down, she’s able to put more weight down and the bruising is going away,” Frieda said.
“She’s young,” interim police chief Jason Hoppa said. “I think she’ll do really well with her recovery.”
In two weeks Yara’s stitches will be removed, and in October she will go in for her final X-ray.
The price tag for the surgery, which falls under the GPD’s responsibility, sits at $3,600.
Due to a large donation to the veterinary program at CSU, the cost of the surgery was less of a financial burden on the GPD. According to Frieda, the donor is an advocate of law enforcement and the working dogs they use to do their jobs.
With the daily therapy required by Frieda, he has been approaching the work in a manner that will benefit Yara for years to come.
“I don’t want to rush it or overexert her other leg,” he said. “I’d rather take it slow, work our way through it and physical therapy to make sure she comes back with a full recovery.”
Each session with Yara takes a little over an hour, four times a day. Frieda is responsible for icing the leg, massaging it, manipulates the joints and working her knee by extending it.
“I have to give her six medications every eight hours, basically, throughout the day and night,” he said. “It keeps her basically pain-free. . . she’s doing well with it.”
“Injuries are unplanned and you have to treat them when they happen,” Hoppa said. “She’s a young dog (who will) heal fast and we’ll get a lot of years with her.”


Glenrock Independent

Physical Address:506 W. Birch, Glenrock, WY 82637 Mailing Address: PO Box 109, Douglas, WY 82633 Phone: (307) 436-2211

The Glenrock Independent is located in the Bronco Building

Office hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday - 10:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday - 9:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Subscriber Login