Former military bomb-sniffing dog to get new stem cell procedure for arthritic hip

After two tours of duty sniffing out bombs in Iraq, Basco just wants to retire in peace and be free of the pain from osteoarthritis that has settled into his hip.

MAIL TRIBUNE –The 80-pound German shepherd will head to Corvallis today where he will become the first dog in Oregon to undergo a one-day stem cell procedure that could alleviate his suffering and help him live a long, healthy life. The previous methods involved multiple trips to a clinic.

Debbie and Basco

Debbie Richter adopted Basco (pronounced “Bosco”) in November after he was discharged from the military. Basco, who is 7 years old, served his country guarding embassies by searching in-coming cars from bombs.

Basco’s long road to Medford began in Baghdad and buzzed through Texas, where he was decommissioned, and then to Portland where Richter picked him up at the airport. “I mostly go for rescue dogs,” Richter said. “Too many dogs are getting put down in shelters.”

In years past, that would have been Basco’s fate, despite his relatively young age. Hip issues such as arthritis have proven fatal to larger dogs, as the pain from bone grinding against bone destroys their ability to move and sinks their quality of life.

“It was obvious that he was in pain when I first got him,” Richter said. “My vet checked him out and found that the ball of his femur was nearly flat.”Surgery options included hip replacement, which has a limited chance of success on a dog Basco’s age.

While researching alternative procedures, Richter found the company MediVet-America online. They have worked in recent years to perfect a stem cell treatment of joint and ligament ailments in dogs and horses.

MediVet-America agreed to cover the costs of Basco’s procedure in return for his military service, De Witt said.“I want this to cure his hip,” Richter said. “He deserves to be out of pain for all he’s done for his country.”