LISLE, Ill. — After working as a veterinarian for almost two decades, Dr. Alexis Newman opened Partners and Paws Veterinary Hospital three years ago with her husband, where they specialize in treating working animals. She and her team treat a wide range of dogs who work as K9 officers, including as arson investigators, search-and-rescue assistants and narcotics and bomb detectors.
Seven years ago, working dogs became a regular part of Dr. Newman’s practice, but it has grown exponentially, in part because of her unique mobile clinic. Each week, Dr. Newman and her team pack up the mobile clinic and set out to K9 training sessions across the area. Officers and their dogs go through 16 hours of training each month, often with Dr. Newman right there with them.
"Anything can be done in the rig that can be done in the clinic, with the exception of X-rays," Dr. Newman said.
One officer was able to find out how his 5-year-old partner is handling chemotherapy for lymphoma during a training. By coming to the officers, the mobile vet service helps them stay on the job, a huge benefit to police departments and their K9s across the area.
"There are very close bonds between pets and pet owners but it is a bit indescribable with a handler and the K9 partner," Dr. Newman said.
Today she works with 85 different departments, including more than 100 K9s and another 40 retired police dogs. She works with them throughout their working life, and often up to the very end. Just two months ago Dr. Newman also helped Chicago police say goodbye to 9-year-old Brix, who lost a battle with cancer while still working on a limited basis.
"We just euthanized a dog from Schererville, and at the last minute the guys on their shift decided to escort the ambulance from the Schererville line to the Illinois border, just so he had some acknowledgement that he was a previous officer," Dr. Newman said.
Dr. Newman said this special camaraderie is unique to the K9 unit.
"It’s like no other; you see it even more with the K9 unit than any other unit within the department," she said.
Information on the PartnersAndPaws mobile clinic and Mark-9 financial assistance program for retired K9 officers is available online.