German Shepherd injured in Ukraine gets a fresh start with Hungarian police

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — After a rocket attack in eastern Ukraine, half of Rambo’s face was mutilated and bloodied. Shrapnel had ravaged the right side of his head and he wasn’t sure he would survive.

The 3-year-old German shepherd, who had accompanied Ukrainian soldiers to the front lines of war, underwent emergency surgery that saved his life. Now Rambo trains with the Budapest Police Department in neighboring Hungary and is a reminder that dogs – and people with disabilities – can do great things.

Recovered from his contact with death in Kharkiv province in northeastern Ukraine, Rambo is learning to interact with children, the elderly and people with disabilities at police protests and rehabilitation institutions, according to Lieutenant Colonel Maria Stein of the Budapest Metropolitan Police.

The demonstration of tasks performed by canine units is part of the department’s crime prevention program, with the goal of teaching young people to be more tolerant and respect each other’s differences, Stein said.

“Nowadays, unfortunately, sometimes kids make fun of each other because they wear glasses, because they have braces, because their ears look funny or whatever – because they’re different,” she said. “With Rambo, we may be able to raise awareness for these children a little and show them that yes, he is injured, he is different, but he can do the same things as other dogs.”

Rambo’s journey to the police department was not easy. Last year, shrapnel from the rocket attack, which also injured Ukrainian soldiers, blasted away pieces of skull, damaging his jaw and severely mutilating his right ear.

After his first surgery, Rambo was taken to safety in western Ukraine. Violetta Kovacs, head of a Hungarian organization dedicated to rescuing German Shepherds, quickly picked him up and took him to a rehabilitation center near Budapest.

“The dog needed immediate help,” said Kovacs, manager of the German Shepherd Breed Rescue Foundation. “We had to operate on him again here in Hungary because several of his teeth were causing him great pain due to the injury, which required immediate intervention.”

Rambo spent eight months at the center, where his jaw was reconstructed, his right ear amputated and several teeth removed. He was trained to be socialized with other dogs, Kovacs said, but his fondness for children was clear from the start.

Gyula Desko, Lieutenant Colonel of the Budapest Metropolitan Police, later adopted Rambo, providing him with further training and housing.

He called Rambo a “very friendly and good natured dog” who is progressing well in his training and whose survival was “a miracle”.

“Working with him requires more patience and more care because we don’t know what kind of mental problems his head injury caused him,” Desko said, but Rambo is “so open with people and accepting them. , in spite of his wounds and the shock that happened to him.

It is these qualities, Desko said, that the police force hopes to inspire those who meet Rambo to open up to kindness and acceptance.

“As a police dog, it can be seen through him that you can live a full life even when injured, and that you can be a useful member of society and do a wide variety of things,” Desko said.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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