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Santa Monica Police K-9 Dog Dies

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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

October 14, 2015 -- Pavo always made an entrance.  His bark was so insistent and so loud you could hear him blocks away, trying to track down a narcotics suspect or just making his way back to the Santa Monica Police Department in the cruiser driven by the officer who was his partner and handler.

“He liked to announce his arrival,” recalled Sgt. Roberto Villegas, head of the K-9 unit for the SMPD. “If a resident ever heard a dog barking in the back seat of a police car, that would be Pavo. 

“You could hear him blocks way. He was a very vocal dog.”

Pavo, a Belgian Malinois from the Netherlands, died this month after seven years with the SMPD, officials said.  He was 10 and half years old.

Pavo died of complications from a medical condition believed to have been either the early stages of cancer or a stroke, Villegas said.  Pavo was on the job until September, when “we noticed that something was wrong,”

As with most dogs who serve in K-9 units, Villegas said, Pavo was so “driven to work that the symptoms of illness were masked.”

By the time officials realized how sick Pavo really was, little could be done, he added.

Officials noted that police canines go home with their partners and, as was the case with Pavo, become part of the handler's family. Pavo was in the home of his partner-handler, Officer George Mendez, when he died. 

“Pavo passed away peacefully at home while in the care of Officer Mendez and the treating veterinarian,” said Sgt. Rudy Camarena, a SMPD spokesman.

"Pavo was a loyal partner and family to all of us," Villegas added. "Our hearts go out to Officer Mendez and his family." 

The senior canine in the department’s three-dog K-9 unit, Pavo was trained in subject location and apprehension, Villegas said. Like all police officers and canines with the K-9 unit, Pavo was expected to put his life on the line every day on the job, officials said.

Camarena said the SMPD was mourning Pavo’s death.

“It is a sad day at the Santa Monica Police Department,” he said.

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