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SAN RAMON — Hector, one of the San Ramon Police Department’s three K-9 dogs, is off-duty these days.
And that’s by orders of the police department.
The 7-year-old sable German Shepherd has cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy treatments every three weeks.
Officer Allen Molien, Hector’s handler 24/7 the past six years, said living with his partner’s cancer has been “a learning curve” and he still takes him on patrol.
“He is riding with me because it’s less stress on him and he doesn’t like being left alone at home,” Molien said.
“He’s doing good; his energy level is up, he’s eating fine,” Molien said, adding that Hector does all the normal things dogs go — playing fetch, running around and being very active. “There really hasn’t been a change. We’re not on any medication other than the chemotherapy.
“Some days are better than others,” Molien continued. “When your partner has a death sentence, it’s something you prepare yourself for sooner than later.”
Hector was rushed into emergency surgery July 9 at SAGE Centers for Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Care in Concord for massive internal bleeding from a mass on his spleen. He was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma cancer, a malignant tumor of blood vessel cells and a common form of canine cancer, according to Molien.
Hector’s first chemotherapy treatment was July 24 at East Bay Veterinary Specialists & Emergency in Walnut Creek. He suffered complications from the treatment so was taken to the clinic for observation July 27. The dosage was reduced, and Hector was put on a sensitive diet. Since then, he’s bounced back, the officer said.
After each chemo treatment, Hector returns to the clinic a week later and has a blood test done to check his white and red blood cell count.
“After he did the first chemo treatment and had the blood test, the results were really good,” Molien said.
Once the chemotherapy sessions are over, Hector will be given herb pills to boost his immune system and blood cells, as well as low-dose chemotherapy pills. The police department at some point will determine whether and when he can return to the field.
Hector was acquired six years ago as an 18-month-old pup from Riverside-based Adlerhorst International, which sells European canines and specializes in training dogs for security and police duties.
He is considered a multi-use dog, whose responsibilities include apprehending suspects; locating missing people such as those who suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia or runaways; looking for items in fields such as guns, knifes or wallets; and searching for illicit drugs, including cocaine and heroin.
In addition, Molien and Hector took part in more than 40 public education events the past year, including youth activities and Girl Scout and Boy Scout demonstrations.
Molien said the entire police department is “extremely supportive with Hector and his diagnosis. From the get-go, they’ve told me to do what you have to do to prolong things to get this dog back on the street.”
He said the department takes out pet insurance for all three of its K-9 dogs because they can be stabbed or shot or suffer injuries such as hernias or foxtails. Each session of chemotherapy costs $1,000, Molien said, noting pet insurance covers $900 and the department pays the rest.
Molien has plenty of company at Molien’s home — five other dogs, horses, chickens, goats and cats. “He gets along with every one of the animals,” Molien said.
Molien said there’s been a lot of support from the community as well as fellow officers.
“People at work come up to me and give Hector a hug,” Molien said. “And I get emails from people I don’t even know who are giving prayers and thoughts and good wishes. It’s really been a blessing. It’s really helped me cope with the situation.”
San Ramon police dog Hector now sics cancer instead of criminals