EXCLUSIVE: Did he have to be put down? Anger grows after SFPD canine euthanized

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- There are growing concerns at the San Francisco Police Department over the recent euthanization of a police dog. Did the canine have to be put to sleep?

Tuesday, the SFPD issued a press release saying canine police dog Cavik, a Belgian Malinois Shepherd, had to be put to sleep. The dog was on the force for seven years and lived with his handler, officer Matt Maciel, and his family.

ABC7news spoke with current and former canine handlers both from SFPD and other law enforcement agencies about the order to euthanize the dog. All of them said they were angry at the decision.

Even though most agreed that the deputy chief in charge of the canine unit probably followed the letter of the law, he violated its spirit.

Officer Maciel noticed Cavik acting strangely after a full day of training on Tuesday. He took his canine to the Norcal Veterinary hospital in Daly City. The veterinarian said Cavik was bleeding internally, possibly with a ruptured tumor. and that the dog needed exploratory surgery to determine if he had cancer, a procedure that could cost up to $8,000.

The other choice would be to put him down. Either way, the decision had to be made quickly.

Officer Maciel reported the findings to his superiors and according to ABC7's sources, Maciel asked the deputy chief to retire the dog to him.

Those sources say the chief said no -- that the process could take too long and the medical cost was too great.

He ordered that the dog be euthanized.

The dog was put to sleep later that afternoon.

Canine officers ABC7 News spoke with said a memorial fund established in memory of Sgt. Darryl Tsujimoto, a canine officer who died during a training exercise, could have paid for the surgery and other medical costs.

It is administered by the SPCA and is funded to the tune of a million dollars and was set up specifically to care for retired police canines.

SFPD released a second statement late this afternoon following our inquiries, "The decision to euthanize Cavik was not made lightly and was done in consideration of the suffering that he was experiencing. All of us mourn the loss of a loyal and valued member of our department."
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