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Rescue dog in training receives assistance from area veterinarian

Tina passed all the tests with flying colors.
She finished each trial top of her class, despite being the runt of the litter. But Tina’s fate changed with one visit to the doctor.
The young bloodhound was originally chosen to be trained as a missing persons dog.
Lt. Kent Lukach with the Lincolnton Police Department purchased the dog. He planned to train her at home as a volunteer to help find missing children and Alzheimer’s patients.
Tina started training while living at Lukach’s home — placing first in her tracking tests.
Lukach’s plans for Tina changed when veterinarians discovered a problem.
Dr. Tony Lavine, veterinarian at Ironton Animal Hospital, detected a heart abnormality during one of Tina’s checkups.
“You could place your hand on her heart, and it felt like a cell phone on vibrate,” Lukach said.
She was diagnosed with a heart abnormality involving fluid circling her lungs. If not corrected, she could go into cardiac arrest.
Tina’s heart condition can be remedied with surgery, but Lukach said it has put her out of the running to do the job. Her heart condition could prove too stressful.
Her heart may not beat to the right rhythm for a tracking dog, but Tina has successfully won the hearts of the staff at Ironton Animal Hospital.
The staff has taken her in as their pet, giving her a room, toys and affection. And she eats it up — licking hands and faces and rolling over on her back for petting sessions.
Lavine has taken ownership of the 4-month-old bloodhound and has agreed to perform her surgery.
“Her initial job had a lot to do with it for me,” he said. “I always try to help out those animals that help people.”
Lavine has worked on police dogs and horses for handicapped children in the past.
He feels confident that Tina’s surgery will solve the problem and lead to a long, healthy life.
Surgery is set for next week.
Lukach is glad the dog is being taken care of and intends to move forward in his mission to find a suitable tracking dog for Lincoln County.
Lavine said there might still be hope for the lovable pup.
“We might be able to get her back to where she’s supposed to be,” he said.
If not, Lavine said she’ll find a home whether it’s at the animal hospital or elsewhere.
“When she’s all better, depending on how attached the staff is, we’ll find her a good home.”by Diane Turbyfill

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