WA Police Commissioner visits ‘improving’ Rumble

October 22, 2015

Pictured with Rumble, from left to right: Dr Claire Sharp, Assistant Commissioner Kellie Properjohn, Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan and Rumble's handler Matt Muletta

Pictured with Rumble, from left to right: Dr Claire Sharp, Assistant Commissioner Kellie Properjohn, Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan and Rumble's handler Matt Muletta

One of the most popular animals ever to be treated at Murdoch University Veterinary Hospital – Rumble the police dog – is responding well to treatment.

Rumble has been diagnosed with meningoencephalitis, inflammation of the brain and surrounding tissues. While it is not yet known what has caused Rumble’s meningitis despite a number of tests, the German Shepherd famous for helping to catch dozens of criminal suspects in Perth, has rallied in the last few days and is walking with help and eating well.

He received a very special visitor to his bed in intensive care earlier this week – WA Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan came into the hospital to check on Rumble’s progress, meet with his handler and owner Matt Muletta and the veterinary staff treating him.

“He’s a very tough character – our police dogs are trained to be resilient,” said Commissioner O'Callaghan.

“I’m pleased to hear about his progress in the last few days and to meet the veterinary staff treating him.

“We have been really surprised by the community reaction. You don’t realise how much our dogs are followed until something like this happens. The reason Rumble is a star is because he does his job very well.”

Rumble was admitted to Murdoch University Veterinary Hospital on Wednesday, October 14, with the sudden onset of neurologic symptoms.

Rumble suffered from a number of seizures, was mentally dull and was unable to stand or walk for several days. As a result of not being able to swallow normally, Rumble also developed very severe pneumonia. His condition was critical and worsened over the weekend before improving on Monday and Tuesday of this week.

The veterinarians in charge of his care at Murdoch have carried out a barrage of tests looking for evidence of a stroke, infectious diseases, or cancer but so far the results have come back negative. Fortunately an MRI scan showed no evidence of structural damage to his brain or spinal cord. Samples of his spinal fluid are currently in the United States undergoing additional testing for infectious diseases that can affect the nervous system.

Dr Claire Sharp, senior lecturer in veterinary emergency and critical care, said despite not knowing the cause of his meningitis, Rumble was responding well to treatment and critical care.

“Rumble’s spinal fluid analysis is consistent with mild meningitis but we may never know precisely what caused Rumble’s illness,” said Dr Sharp. “Often there are cases in human medicine where doctors are not sure what is causing a person to be ill, and the same is true for animals; medicine is not always black and white.

“While Rumble’s condition is improving he still has a long way to go and is not out of danger yet. Recovery may take weeks to months and he may never return to full fitness.

“It’s been a huge rollercoaster for his handler Matt and his family. Rumble isn’t just a police dog to them, he’s their family pet. Like most of our patients in intensive care, it is never smooth sailing – you often go two steps forward and then one back. But Rumble is fighting well which gives us time.

“It’s becoming increasingly clear that Rumble wants to sit up, walk and to interact but his body is not quite there yet. It is frustrating for him but it’s also a good sign.”

As with all intensive care patients at the University Veterinary Hospital, Rumble’s care has been very involved with a team of dedicated veterinarians, specialist consultants and nurses working around the clock to attend to his needs.

“His condition has been quite dynamic and so being in a high level 24/7 intensive care facility such as this is pivotal to the success of Rumble’s veterinary care,” said Dr Sharp.

She added the veterinary hospital had received many calls and messages from members of the public wishing Rumble well. And his bed in intensive care is decorated with get well soon cards from his fans.

All messages of support are welcome at the hospital but due to patient confidentiality, staff are unable to share Rumble’s condition with individuals.

Messages can be posted onto the hospital's Facebook page here.

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Media contact: Jo Manning
Tel: (08) 9360 2474  |  Mobile: 0408 201 309  |  Email: j.manning@murdoch.edu.au
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