WOOLWICH TWP. — It was a hero’s farewell, attended by lots of police officers, as is traditional when a law enforcement professional has died.
In Friday’s case, however, it was a farewell for Judge, a retired West Deptford Township police dog.
Thirty or more police officers and about a dozen K-9 officers and their partners went to the Swedesboro Animal Hospital St. Francis Veterinary Clinic on Kings Highway in Woolwich Township to say goodbye to Judge.
The 9-year-old’s physical ailments had elicited an amazing show of support in November, when more than $13,000 was raised in one day to help pay for the German Shepherd dog’s mountain of medical bills.
Judge started his career with Cpl, Mike Franks in 2007. The dog was deployed more than 280 times, in cases such as drug detection, tracking, and apprehension. Judge’s work aided in the arrest of 152 people, the seizure of three vehicles, the removal of three handguns from the streets, drug seizures, and the confiscation of more than $47,000 in cash, said police.
The dog also had numerous interactions with children and residents during demonstrations and public events.
Judge was forced to retire in August 2013 because of issues with his teeth.
In June, Judge stared having health issues, including vomiting, hair loss and bloating. He was diagnosed with Cushings Disease and was given medication to control the disease.
In September, Judge started having nose bleeds. A specialist failed to find the cause of the new symptoms.
On Nov. 7, Judge again started vomiting and showed signs of weakness, Veterinarians found several large masses on the dog’s liver and testicles, along with an intestinal blockage.
The dog was sent to the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Hospital and the blockage and large masses were removed and biopsied.
Township coverage for the dog’s medical expenses is a maximum of $300 a year, but Judge’s medical bills are now in excess of $10,000.
Judge lived with Franks and his family and was a loved member of the household.
Set up on Wednesday, Nov. 12., the fund-raising project had reached $9,245 by about 8:30 p.m. a day later and, overnight Thursday, passed and exceeded the goal. Friday morning, it had raised $12,070, including a $2,500 donation from Cornell & Co., according to Sgt. John Chambers, who set up the GoFundMe page.
Donations came from 121 people, according to the website.
The police also received an offer for free medical care for Judge from St. Francis Veterinary Hospital, said Chambers.
Now, Franks said, Judge’s liver had become enlarged, crowding the animal’s stomach. This meant Judge was unable to eat. The Cushings Disease had become too much for Judge to handle, said Franks. A medical decision was made Thursday to euthanize the dog.
Franks said he knew Judge would be able to walk into the hospital once he’d taken a bite grip on a training “sleeve.” This was like a toy, or reward, for Judge. Several K-9 cops smiled and remarked that they knew Judge would be strong enough to walk in.
One surprise was the double line of vets and vet technicians just inside the door. One woman sobbed.
“They’ve been just great,” said Franks when it was all over.