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Newburgh K-9 Raven Faces Toughest Foe — Cancer

By February 16, 2019April 25th, 2022No Comments

Town of Newburgh Police Chief Bruce Campbell says Raven can find suspects much faster than officers alone.

TOWN OF NEWBURGH — K-9 Raven is about to do her fourth demonstration of the fine art of racing after and apprehending a perp. She stands, eyes bright and fixed on her partner, Sgt. Henry Lawson, waiting for his command, and when it comes she takes off like she’s spring-loaded.

She looks like she could do this forever.

Raven is, as her follow officers in the Town of Newburgh Police Department have described her, the perfect K-9 mix of nonaggression, drive, obedience and “just a plain good dog.” The 78-pound German shepherd looks like a canine in her career prime.

It’s only as Lawson gives the “down” command, and she lowers to the pavement, stretching her front legs out before her, that you might notice a clue that something is amiss — two patches of shaved skin, telltale signs of visits to the vet. And a recent diagnosis of cancer of the urethra.

Lawson, who spends more time with Raven than anyone else in his family, noticed symptoms about six weeks ago: first that she was drinking more water than normal and then that she had trouble urinating. She was treated for an infection, but when blood started to appear, the vet referred her to Guardian Veterinary Specialists in Brewster for more sophisticated testing, including a scope and biopsy.

“On Friday night, I got a call from Dr. Joseph Impellizeri, the vet. I was in my vehicle …,” Lawson said. “The doctor said ‘I have bad news.’ He didn’t have to tell me, I knew.”

Lawson sat in his car with his partner of eight years. He was sweating. He didn’t want to go back to the station at the end of his shift. “I didn’t want to tell anybody, because i didn’t want to get upset. I was a little heartbroken.”

When he and Raven went to Brewster to consult with the vet the following Monday, he went without hope. “I didn’t know that it was treatable,” Lawson said. But the vet told him that he thought they could get the cancer in check “with some of the new, cutting-edge treatments he has been working with.”

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A GoFundMe page has been set up to help with expenses for Raven’s cancer treatments at

Raven will start chemotherapy Tuesday, with treatments once a month for an estimated six months (chemo doesn’t have the devastating effects on animals it does on humans, Impellizeri said). They have other other new technology to use if they find the cancer has spread.

Of course, fighting cancer is expensive. A CT scan alone costs more than $1,000; each chemo session $500. And police dogs don’t have health insurance.

Still, Lawson left with hope.

“I left there Monday and couldn’t wait to get home. I called my wife and I felt much better,” he said. “Then I called the chief, and felt even better.”

Technically, Raven is not his dog — she belongs to the Town of Newburgh, which pays for K-9s to be used as a tool to support the police. “I know this is a business, I know this dog means a lot more to me than the town board. And town boards have to be wise about how they spend their funds.”

The board has been supportive, and Chief Bruce Campbell, who considers Raven part of the police department’s family, has been supportive of Raven since the beginning. “He told me, ‘We’re going to get her better, even if she retires tomorrow,’” Lawson said.

The Police Benevolent Association started a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for her medical bills. In one day, they raised more than $7,000.

“And I know some of the officers here were the first to donate,” Lawson said. “The support has been overwhelming.”

The Cronomer Valley Fire Department ladies auxiliary called and said they want to do a spaghetti dinner fundraiser. The teacher from one of the schools Raven visits wants to be involved in fundraising for their favorite K-9.

Campbell notes that Raven has certainly earned her way — in five minutes she can find a suspect that it might take 10 officers searching for hours to do.

Raven and Lawson have the highest level of commitment to each other. Recently, while tracking a robber through the woods, Raven started crossing an iced-over stream when the ice gave way.

“She was on the ice and she fell through, and was looking back at me,” Lawson said. “I didn’t even think about it, I just rushed into the water and got her out.

“She’s there for us, I’m there for her.”

Source: RecordsOnline—cancer