Janesville K-9 still working despite cancer diagnosis

Published: Aug. 16, 2019 at 10:36 AM CDT
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A K-9 officer with the Janesville Police Department is on the mend after being diagnosed with cancer. Even with his diagnosis, he’s still out on patrol to serve and protect.

Officer Drew Severson and his partner Fred are always together.

“It’s literally 24 hours a day, 7 a week. He not only goes to work with me, but he comes home with me. I spend more time with him then I do my wife, which we joke about,” said Severson.

They’ve become best friends over the past 3.5 years. But earlier this year, Severson noticed his buddy was hurting.

“After checking his pad, I noticed there was a small injury on his hind leg,” said Severson.

Doctors thought it may have been a puncture wound or some foreign object imbedded in his paw. But when his paw didn’t heal after a few months of testing, doctors did more tests.

“They took a portion of his pad off and they sent that to a lab and found that it was actually a melanoma tumor,” said Severson.

“It’s kind of a gut punch, you know? I’m with this dog like I said 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We are always together so getting that (news) was really gut wrenching,”

Dr. John Silbernagel with Madison Veterinary Specialists says he was shocked to see the diagnosis.

“Big time. We were really expecting some chronic infected wound or some fungal infection. And his is just a very odd presentation. We don’t seem them on the digital pads very often,” said Dr. Silbernagel.

Doctors considered amputation but ultimately decided against the procedure.

“We had some discussion about amputating the digit but since it’s a primary digit or central weight bearing digit, it could affect his function so we decided to keep the digit,” added Dr. Silbernagel.

For the past eight weeks, Fred has been getting a vaccine. Now, they wait and see how he responds to the treatment.

“We’ve received countless letters in the email and treats its hard to get back to everyone so if you sent something to use we appreciate it we’ve noticed it,” said Severson.

In the meantime, Fred is still working. On Thursday night—shortly after his treatment at the vet -- he chased down a theft suspect who ran after a traffic stop.

Janesville police say around 7 p.m. Thursday night, someone reported that a suspicious person was switching license plates off of cars. Officer Severson pulled him over but police say 27-year-old Alexander Schenck got out and ran away.

Severson deployed Fred who gave chase and quickly caught Schenck.

Officers say Schenck was wanted on 12 warrants throughout Rock County. He was also allegedly involved in retail thefts at Farm and Fleet.

“He’s still working. He’s going to keep working until we are told that he can’t,” added Severson.

Bad guys beware: Fred is still on the prowl.

“They know he’s coming --if he is coming --because he makes his presence known,” Severson said.

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