SAGINAW, MI — Days after the Saginaw City Council approved buying a new police K-9 unit for the police department, the Saginaw Valley Police Canine Association announced it is cutting ties with the program. In doing so, they cited concerns for the K-9s’ health.
In a statement provided to the council on July 13, the nonprofit SVPCA wrote its members feel it is best for the agencies to go their separate ways.
“Over the last couple years, we have continued to feel that we were not on the same page when it comes to the health and well-being of the police K-9s and have been left feeling that our concerns were not being taken seriously or handled appropriately,” the statement reads.
On July 11, the city council approved the police department’s adoption of Krixus, a 2-year-old, Mexico-born Belgian Malinois trained both in tracking and narcotics detection. Krixus is to fill a slot once occupied by Deebo, who retired in March.
The department has four other dogs in its police K-9 unit: Ares, Cigan, Harvey, and Denver, the last of which also joined the agency this year.
Krixus was adopted via donations from the SVPCA. Ares and Denver were also paid for with donations from SVPCA.
The SVPCA claims its most recent concerns stem from health issues with Denver that were not followed up with a specialist and an incomplete health screening on Krixus before he was purchased.
“We are extremely disappointed that it has come to this after all the volunteer work we have done to save, grow, and maintain the Saginaw Police K-9 program,” the SVPCA statement continues. “However, as we have learned better ways to ensure the safety and workability of the K-9s, we feel that the department has not been willing or able to make those changes for the betterment of the K9s.”
Saginaw Police Chief Robert M. Ruth declined to respond to the dogs’ health concerns voiced by the SVPCA, but praised the organization and its past with the police department.
“I appreciate all of the work the SVPCA has given to the Saginaw Police Department over the years,” Ruth said. “They’ve been a tremendous asset for us. They have really helped grow our program here at the SPD.
In a response statement, the city described the police department’s K-9s contributions as immeasurable, saying they are a tremendous benefit to the department and Saginaw citizens.
“Our K-9 handlers have been through extensive training on the care and handling of these dogs, and treat their K-9 dogs with extreme care and respect,” the city stated. “We are very grateful for the support we have received from the Saginaw Valley Police Canine Association over the years. They have shown a strong commitment to safety for the City of Saginaw. At this time, Chief Ruth, the K-9 Command Officers, and the City Manager feel it makes sense to become more autonomous and transition our fundraising efforts to our own SPD organization.”
The SVPCA asked the city council to provide a name of a nonprofit that can hold the funds for K-9s and a copy of its IRS tax-exempt determination letter by Aug. 19. If that information is not provided, the Saginaw Police K-9 Program will forfeit the funds held for it by the SVPCA.
If that occurs, those forfeited funds will be placed in the SVPCA’s general and retired K-9 fund.
New Belgian Malinois to fill Saginaw K-9 slot left by retired Deebo
Meet Ares, Saginaw Police Department’s newest crime-fighting K-9
Saginaw police welcome new K-9 named Nvee, retire Canjo at age 8