SAN FRANCISCO - What should have been a routine procedure has led to the separation of two partners. San Francisco Police Officer Val Kirwan retired on Friday. His K-9 partner of two years, Baro, was supposed to retire and return home with him.
Instead, Baro is alone in a cage in a San Bruno facility.
"He's been part of my life 24/7. I go to work with him every day. When we're not at work he's around the house. Wherever I go he's with me," said Kirwan.
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Baro and Val Kirwan both retired from SFO's K-9 unit on Friday. They should have gone home together.
Instead, Kirwan was ordered to deliver Baro to the San Bruno Pet Hospital for boarding.
Kirwan has been on the phone non-stop trying to cut through the red tape, which didn't exist two years ago when his then K-9 partner Gilbey retired. Gilbey continued living with Kirwan.
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Now Kirwan can't even get into the hospital to visit Baro, who suffers from separation anxiety.
"It's not anything I would wish on any dog. It sounds terrible," said Beth Koenig, a K-9 trainer who's considered an expert in the field.
She worries about Baro's physical and mental health.
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"He could absolutely pass away with just super stress, depression, not eating, it could be a huge deal absolutely," Koenig said.
Even the Officers' Union is scratching its head over this. Kirwan said this is a standard process, and that the paperwork to retire together was filled out weeks ago and verbal "OK's" were given.
Kirwan fears Baro could be sent back to the Texas Air Force base where he was born and be re-assigned, despite a veterinarian recommending Baro retire.
Kirwan worries the two will never see each other again. In the meantime, San Francisco police haven't commented.