RAM3D is 3D printing titanium implants for veterinary surgery
Kora is a Land Search and Rescue (LANDSAR) dog 'in training' and her owner and handler is Nick Petry, a volunteer with LANDSAR in Tauranga. For over five years he’s offered his specialist skills as a highly trained volunteer to the public 24/7 as an Operational Field Member. Initially he worked without a dog and 18 months ago decided to get his own dog.
This formidable team have been training hard with the aim to get Kora certified as an operational search dog. Like all LANDSAR Search dogs, she has the perfect nature, is friendly with everyone and has no aversion to anyone. All LANDSAR Search dogs that are certified in tracking, need to be able to follow ground scent where a person or persons has walked, and that scent can be a few hours or days old. They are also expected locate any articles, e.g. hat, backpack, wallet by indicating with a trained response (i.e., down stay/down stay bark/re-find).
Kora was getting close to becoming certified when Nick noticed her performance had dropped off and she was a bit lame. In Nick’s own words “like any performance athlete, injury for a working dog is a high probability”. After a visit to the vet, Nick was told she would need some surgery on her lower back; the damage was done between the last disc of her spine and sacrum. Over the years RAM3D, a metal 3d printing bureau based in Tauranga have been working with Massey Vets in Palmerston North and have been 3D printing titanium parts for large numbers of dogs and cats and were asked to print the implant for Kora.
The surgery was a success; Nick was surprised she walked out of the clinic straight after her operation and even though she was a bit sad and heavily medicated, he knew it wouldn’t be long until she was back to her normal self. She is now fully mobile and raring to go.
Kora may have missed her opportunity of doing her assessment to become certified this year but will have another chance early next year. It’s not an easy task passing the assessment and there is currently only one LANDSAR Search dog in the North Island. The assessment will take place over 4 days with lots of tasks to complete multiple times to show a consistent level. She will be assessed by Trainers from LANDSAR Search dogs and an assessor from the police dog section to ensure she meets the high standard. If she passes, she will gain certification as a Wilderness Search Dog. Nick and Kora have more work to do and both need to be very fit. We wish them the best of luck and know it won’t be long before we see Kora as a fully-fledged LANDSAR Search dog.
Written by Gilly Hawker