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Donors Make a Dog’s Life Easier

Staff Writer

Blue’s days may be numbered, but a group of philanthropic Westsiders is trying to make each day as happy as possible for the heroic former police dog.

Blue, one of the two original members of Los Angeles Police Department’s canine unit, was retired last month after it was discovered he had a congenital spinal-cord disease.

The LAMPMinders, a low-profile group of Westside women who devote themselves primarily to children’s causes, heard of the dog’s illness and his retirement to the Malibu home of his handler, Sgt. Mark Mooring. They donated $2,000 for Blue’s care.

The money will be used for special food and experimental acupuncture treatment by Burbank veterinarian Dr. Sheldon Altman, Mooring said.

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During the German shepherd’s five years of duty he was knifed, beaten with a hammer and pounded with a pipe. He survived to conduct 734 searches and capture 253 felony suspects--including suspected killers, armed robbers and rapists. He was credited more than once with saving the life of a police officer.

Veterinarians last month said that Blue, who is 7 years old, would become completely paralyzed in about four months and would have to be destroyed.

Altman, who said he is one of half a dozen Los Angeles-area veterinarians treating animals by acupuncture, said he does not anticipate any miraculous cure for Blue.

At the most, he said, he hopes to slow the progress of Blue’s illness, which he described as comparable to Lou Gehrig’s disease or multiple sclerosis. Blue, who is not in pain but is losing feeling in his hind legs, will receive treatments once or twice a week.

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Treatment began a week ago but it will be about a month before it is possible tell whether the acupuncture is helping the dog, Mooring said. In the meantime, as a civilian, Blue is being “spoiled rotten” and enjoying his freedom, Mooring said. Although the family’s other two shepherds are kept outside, Blue spends much of his time in the house. “I’m paying more attention to him, playing with him more,’ Mooring said.

Mooring said the most difficult time of the day is when he leaves for work and Blue tries to follow. “I can’t walk . . . with my work shoes on. I can’t let him see my uniform or smell my leather (handler’s) gear. If he sees me leave, he doesn’t understand why he can’t go.”

The first time he attempted to leave for work without Blue, the dog jumped in the front seat of the car, he said. “It was awful.”

The West Los Angeles Police Boosters were instrumental in getting help for Blue, according to Mooring, who said that when Harriet Moffat, the booster president, “realized there would be feed bills and doctor bills for the dog and that the city wouldn’t be paying them any longer, she said, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ ”

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Moffat, who belongs to LAMPMinders, said it was not difficult to convince other members that Blue deserved help.

“They fell in love with Blue years ago, when Mark brought him to a luncheon,” Moffat said. “He was the beginning of the canine unit. The LAMPMinders started out as a mental health support group, then started helping needy children. After they met Blue they bought two more dogs for the canine unit.

“He’s like our first child. No matter how many more dogs we have, nobody will be like Blue.”


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