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Humane Society of Westmoreland County treats animals with laser

| Thursday, May 2, 2013, 8:23 p.m.

Boo Boo, a black Labrador mixed puppy, arrived at the Humane Society of Westmoreland County two weeks ago with a bad cut on his face near his right eye.

Humane society staff began using a recently purchased therapeutic laser on the wound.

“We used the laser for about a week, and it closed up,” said Kathy Burkley, society executive director. “Some hair will have to grow back, if it grows back, and he'll have a scar.”

The humane society in Hempfield, behind Lynch Field, purchased the laser a few weeks ago for about $17,000.

Staff received training on using the laser to help treat animals with cuts, skin conditions such as mange and ringworm, arthritis and muscle injuries, Burkley said.

The treatment consists of placing a cold laser probe, linked to a computer, directly on the animal for a prescribed amount of time.

The laser administers joules of light until the entire treatment area is covered, Burkley explained.

The probe emits laser light directly into the tissue, stimulating cells and increasing blood circulation. The laser can reduce inflammation and relieve pain, many times allowing older or lame animals to gain increased mobility, Burkley said.

“It's painless,” she said. “It can replace narcotics or other drugs that take a long time to work.”

Burkley said she saw an article about the laser in the Tribune-Review and believed it would be a “good fit” for the humane society since many animals coming to the agency, like Boo Boo, could benefit from the treatment.

Boo Boo has since been adopted.

Animals first are evaluated by the society's veterinarian to determine the course of treatment.

Amy Waltz, head surgical and laser technician, had used the laser on more than 20 animals by early this week.

“We've seen some really good results, especially with our arthritic dogs,” Waltz said. “It's been really promising.”

The treatment can also be used for dysplasia, Lyme disease, chronic injury, sprains, strains, disc disease and other ailments.

The society expects to offer the treatment to animals whose owners can't afford a private vet, Burkley said.

One treatment will cost $25 and will help to pay for the laser. The price for multiple treatments will be based on the number of sessions involved, officials said.

Often, an owner and pet part company because of medical costs, Burkley said.

If her nonprofit group can help to keep the two together via the laser then that's good, she said.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or bstiles@tribweb.com.

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