Stem cell surgery on rescue dogs aims to get them moving again

Red helped in rescue efforts at the Pentagon and in New Orleans after major disasters. (Photo: Heather Roche)

Red, a newly-retired 12-year-old search and rescue dog, has spent most of his life serving and saving people, including at the Pentagon on Sept. 11 and in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

However, all the wear and tear from his thankless job have been hard on Red's joints. Now, after years of helping others, a breakthrough treatment may be the thing that helps him.

PHOTOS: Red set to get moving again after surgery

Dr. John Herrity says he first performed a new stem cell treatment on his own dog about a year and a half ago. Since then, he has treated two more rescue dogs, whose handler says the surgery changed their lives.

"(They) never moved," handler Heather Roche said. "Now they're trotting around."

The revolutionary treatment will use Red's own stem cells to his damaged joints. Dr. Herrity says that the hope is that those cells will regenerate and replace the normal tissue that has been damaged over time.

Doctors say that Red should have the ability to run, climb and play again within four to six weeks.