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Police Dog Saint Michael Succumbs To Cancer



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Newtown Police Department's German shepherd, who recently was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, has succumbed, police said this week.

The compact black and tan Saint Michael, a 4-year-old police canine, died on the evening of Sunday, April 16, which was Easter. (See the "Lisa Unleashed" column on Saint Michael in the Horse & Dog section on Page B-2 in this week's edition of The Newtown Bee).

After it became clear to veterinarians how extensively the dog's the cancer had spread, police decided to have the dog euthanized, Newtown Police Lieutenant Aaron Bahamonde said this week. The dog never started a program of chemotherapy, which had been planned to follow the animal's recent surgery to remove a malignant tumor from his stomach.

In the days before he died, the dog appeared to be active and vital, but on Easter the animal became lethargic, resulting in a trip to the veterinarians, Lt Bahamonde said. The veterinarians determined that the animal's cancer had spread extensively, he said. The form of cancer that Saint Michael had is known as hemangiosarcoma. It is a rapidly growing, invasive cancer of the blood vessels.

For humane reasons, it was decided that the best course of action was having the dog euthanized, the lieutenant said.

Saint Michael entered Newtown police patrol service in 2014. His handler was K-9 Officer Felicia Figol.

Before they acquired Saint Michael, police had German shepherd Baro as their canine officer. Baro died in June 2013 at age 10 of the same form of cancer that Saint Michael developed, although Baro's cancer was localized at his heart.

"Saint Michael and Baro have been great assets to the department," Lt Bahamonde said. A police canine program is a worthwhile program which police will resume in the future, he said. Town police have had their dogs trained for drug detection, suspect tracking and apprehension, and finding lost people.

Of Saint Michael, the lieutenant said, "He was a fantastic working dog. He's going to be missed."

To cover St Michael's medical costs, police had created a GoFundMe page earlier this month. The online fund generated about $8,800 in funds, Lt Bahamonde said.

Several thousand dollars that was raised, but is not now needed to cover Saint Michael's medical costs, will be set aside for future police dog-related expenses, he said. People with questions about the fundraising project may contact the lieutenant at 203-426-5841.

In Christianity, Saint Michael is the patron saint of police officers, paramedics, firefighters, and the military.

Lisa Peterson dedicated this week's installation of "Lisa Unleashed" to Saint Michael. Click here for that story. 

Police K-9 Officer Felicia Figol is shown with German shepherd Saint Michael shortly after the dog started service with Newtown police in 2014. Following a recent diagnosis of cancer, and then a sudden downturn, Saint Michael was euthanized on Easter Sunday. (Bee file photo)
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