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CPW News Release
CPW News Release
CSU Vet Hospital helps K9 officer Cash recover from heart disease

Bridget O'Rourke
Statewide Public Information Officer

CSU Vet Hospital helps K9 officer Cash recover from heart disease

Photo courtesy of CSU/CJ Florian 
(left to right) Dr. Bruna Del Nero, K9 Officer Cash, CPW Wildlife Officer Brock McArdle
DENVER – Colorado State University’s (CSU) James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences provided medical support and a cardiology treatment plan for a Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) K9 officer suffering from a heart murmur.    

CPW’s K9 Program has three extraordinary officers that come to work on four legs. Each K9 officer helps find evidence in poaching cases, assists with bear releases to help relocate them away from populated areas, and has been able to sniff out endangered species like boreal toads and black-footed ferrets. In addition to fieldwork, K9 officers serve as teachers, social media influencers and participate in educational presentations across the state. 

Cash, a K9 officer with CPW for seven years, recently experienced some health problems and a concerning heart murmur. CPW contacted its CSU partners to seek medical support for Cash and discuss possible care and treatment options. 

CSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is currently ranked the number two veterinary school in the nation and has internationally awarded professors who specialize in cardiology and are advancing life-changing therapies for dogs.  

During Cash’s initial examination, Dr. Bruna Del Nero – a third-year resident in veterinary
cardiology under the supervision of attending veterinary cardiologists – conducted tests that led to the diagnosis of Cash having a heart condition called Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM), which is an illness that causes the heart muscles to weaken. If left untreated, this illness leads to heart failure and sudden death. 

Fortunately, Cash received medical attention and intervention at an optimal time that allowed for diet changes and medication to improve his chances for a full recovery. During his last checkup, tests came back positive showing normal heart function. 

“We are incredibly grateful for the dedicated veterinary specialists at CSU who helped us navigate Cash’s health issues,” said CPW Wildlife Officer and Cash’s handler Brock McArdle. “Cash plays a critical role in our wildlife field operations and it's our priority to give him a long, happy and healthy life. We hope Cash’s recovery story helps educate other dog owners about DCM and the valuable resources that CSU offers pet owners.”

In 2018, the Food and Drug Administration launched an investigation to research increased reports of DCM among a wider population of dogs. Reports showed that many DCM patients were consuming non-traditional diets, which caused researchers to study DCM further and its potential link to specific diets and ingredients. 

“Many people have the misperception that food which is good for humans is also good for dogs, but that is not necessarily the case,” said Dr. Bruna Del Nero. “Dogs eating a grain-free diet experiencing symptoms of lethargy, cough or difficulty breathing should be examined by a veterinarian.” 

For more information about CSU’s veterinary services, call (970) 297-5000 or visit

The CPW K9 Program is funded through the generosity of CPW donors, not taxes or license fees. CPW is hosting a 24-hour fundraising campaign, CPW Day of Giving, on July 27, 2023, to raise funds to support CPW’s programs and projects while increasing awareness of how donors can support CPW in a valuable way. 
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CPW is an enterprise agency, relying primarily on license sales, state parks fees and registration fees to support its operations, including: 42 state parks and more than 350 wildlife areas covering approximately 900,000 acres, management of fishing and hunting, wildlife watching, camping, motorized and non-motorized trails, boating and outdoor education. CPW's work contributes approximately $6 billion in total economic impact annually throughout Colorado.
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