LACROSSE, Wis. — A retired police dog who suffers from a genetic condition that's left him unable to use his back legs is enjoying mobility once more thanks to the generosity of strangers.
The La Crosse Tribune reported that Brutus, a retired La Crosse police canine, received a wheelchair this month from Gunnar's Wheels. The nonprofit outfits disabled dogs with wheelchairs at no expense to the owner.
"This means everything to us. He's given everything for me and for the community," said Officer Casey Rossman, Brutus's owner. "You can almost see the smile on his face."
Brutus spent eight years finding drugs, evidence and people on more than 500 deployments while partnered with Rossman.
In September the 10-year-old German shepherd had surgery to repair a herniated disk. Veterinarians discovered he had degenerative myelopathy, a spinal cord disease. In March he had emergency surgery for a twisted stomach and spleen.
Following the surgery, Brutus didn't return from duty and instead retired in May.
"It's been lonely," Rossman said. "He's been my partner for so many years and to come to the realization that he had to retire, it was heartbreaking."
Rossman feared that the disease meant his dog wouldn't be able to run again.
But Jason Parker, founder of Gunnar's Wheels, learned about Brutus on social media and immediately wanted to help.
"Police and military dogs spend their entire lives protecting us," Parker said. His organization has given wheelchairs to more than 200 dogs worldwide in less than a year.
Rossman says Brutus's whole demeanor has changed with his increased mobility and it's given the dog a new breath of life.
"You can almost see the smile on his face," Rossman said.