Groundbreaking stem cell treatment to help K-9 injuries

PITMAN, N.J. (WPVI) -- Stem cell treatment has been successful treating the human population for diseases like cancer and MS.

Now, it is showing great promise helping dogs with everything from degenerative conditions to ligament injuries like the one Kimber the K-9 was diagnosed with.

In the middle of training to be a part of the police force, which costs up to $26,000, her owner, New Jersey Police Patrolman EJ Parker, noticed something wasn't right.

"A few days after she had a light limp," said Parker.

A vet visit resulted in a diagnosis of a partially-ruptured cruciate ligament in her left knee. Because she is under a year old and still growing, surgery was not an option.

"It was a serious diagnosis, and I was upset about it because you don't know how much dogs can bounce back from that," said Parker.

But Dr. Mark Magazu of Saint Francis Veterinary Center of South Jersey believes a combination therapy of platelets and stem cells taken from the dog's own bone marrow has the potential to totally heal Kimber's injury.

"And these stem cells will be placed in a processing flask, and placed in the Companion Regenerative Medicine Unit," said Dr. Magazu.

The machine is the only one validated for use on dogs, and the only one of its kind in this area - the platelets and stem cells work together to regenerate the severed tendons.

"Between the two of them you're actually getting healing, you're not getting scarring," said Dr. Magazu.

And because Magazu suspects Kimber may have been favoring her right knee to compensate for the pain on her left, he also injects the stem cell and platelet therapy into her right knee.

"There's no harm in injecting stem cells into that joint with the assumption that there has to be some stress on that joint," said Dr. Magazu. "All it's going to do is help."

Kimber will have to go through about six to eight weeks of physical therapy before vets can be determine whether or not the treatment worked, but the vet team is optimistic.

"I think we've got a good chance that we are going to get her back," said Dr. Magazu.

Almost the entire cost of this procedure is covered by the K-9 Heroes Total Health Program.

The Saint Francis Veterinary Center founded the program in conjunction with local police departments to provide top medical care to area service dogs.

In about eight weeks, we will let you know if Kimber's therapy was successful.
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