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Sports rehab for pets offered at Cornell

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Sports rehab for pets offered at Cornell
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Most of us know physical therapy is the most important part of the healing process after having surgery. And when pets get injured, it's no different. Tamara Lindstrom reports about a new program at Cornell University that's helping animals recover the same way their owners would.

TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y. -- It was a meeting he'll never forget.

"He came up, smelled me and walked away. Then all of a sudden I look over and here's a puff of dust. Bear's running across the yard, jumped into my lap and laid down. We were done. He owned me," said Tom Devine, Bear's owner.

Tom Devine received his service dog, Bear, through K-9s for Veterans in 2012. It's partnership that's changed his life.

"We can go to the store now, we can go to the movies, we can fly on airplanes. We can do anything we want," said Devine.

Bear monitors Devine's blood sugar, letting him know if it's getting too high or too low and helps Devine with his PTSD.

"One of the things that Tom has difficulty with is being in crowds. So Bear is a buffer," said Marsha Devine.

But at just over a year old, Bear developed hip dysplasia. Now he is the one needing help.

"In the human world, we know it's absolutely essential to rehabilitate in physical therapy post-surgical for many things. And people have a much better outcome, better quality of life. And we really need to be applying these to our pets now," said Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Resident Chris Frye.

Applying those treatments to dogs and even cats is what the new Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Program at Cornell is designed to do.

"Dogs are becoming part of our family. And if we really want to improve their quality of life and return to function quicker, then we have to address the issues just like we would. If we had a post-ACL rupture, we would be in physical therapy for months," said Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Director Joe Wakshlag.

After Bear had surgery to replace both of his hips, he began the Sports Medicine program. His owners say the extra care has made a world of difference.

Using special treatments like cold laser, ultrasound, and even an underwater treadmill veterinarians help the animals regain strength and confidence after an injury.

It costs about $500 to $700 for six weeks treatment, but Bear's owners say it was an easy decision.

"He's worth every penny," the Devine's said.

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