Hetty’s ruptured toe ligament

Meet Hetty, a lovely three-year-old Belgian Malinois, who is a dog with a very special job – she’s trained in scent detection and tracking, and has been specifically trained to track lost dogs!

Sadly she was referred to our orthopaedics team as an emergency after a recent spell of lameness in her right forelimb suddenly worsened.

Diagnosis and surgery

Hetty was found to have bruising and swelling of her 5th digit. Instability was found at the level of the proximal interphalangeal joint (middle toe joint), and a small bone fragment was found on her CT scan.

Under the care of ECVS Resident Surgeon Eirik Kvale, Hetty had surgery to remove the bone fragment and repair a complete rupture of the medial collateral ligament of the 5th digit last week and has returned for regular bandage changes since.

Belgian Malinois in a lake

Hetty’s training

Hetty’s training in tracking lost dogs has been going really well under the instruction of her mum and UK College of Scent Dogs. She currently has a 100% track record having found every dog she’s been trialled to find, including one dog which was lost for three years after becoming feral.

In six weeks’ time, she’ll hopefully be fully recovered and ready to return to her important job. Hetty will soon be officially licensed to become the UK’s first licenced sniffer dog to track lost dogs!

Thank you, Hetty for your service to animals. We wish you all the best for your bright future.


A few months later, we were so pleased to see that Hetty’s recovery was complete, allowing her to return to her important job, now a fully-accredited search dog, helping reunite families with their lost and missing dogs. Learn more about Hetty’s work here:  SSP Lost Dog Tracking

Malinois Hetty with Surgical Resident Eirik Kvale at Fitzpatrick Referrals.

Hetty’s mum said:

Our entire experience at Fitzpatrick Referrals, from the staff on reception to the vets and vet nurses, has been fantastic. The care that Hetty has received has been world-class. She was treated with such dignity and respect for her individual needs. Every patient really does matter at Fitzpatrick Referrals. Never rushed, always listened to and always treated like the most important patient in the world. Thank you team Fitzpatricks!

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Fitzpatrick Referrals is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of orthopaedic and neurological diseases in small animals.