University Police Department mourns death of four­legged officer Quinty

By Masaki Sugimoto

Quinty, a narcotics­sniffing dog who worked with the University Police Department for

eight years, passed away Saturday after finding MDMA during his last drug bust with

the police force.

The dog started feeling ill recently and was taken to his primary veterinarian for some

tests, University Police Chief Jeff Christensen said.

UIPD officer Doug Beckman, Quinty’s handler, was told Quinty was fine after the tests,

so the dog went back on the job, sniffing out drugs.

After making a drug bust Friday night, Quinty started to get sick again. That was when

Beckman took his dog to the emergency room at the University’s veterinary hospital,

where it was discovered that Quinty was suffering from hemangiosarcoma, or spleen

cancer. The 10­year­old Belgian malinois died the following morning.

The loss of Quinty has been hard on the whole police department, especially on

Beckman and his family. He was unable to be reached for comment due to his grieving.

Lt. Joseph McCullough, who worked with Beckman and Quinty, explained how Quinty’s

loss is impacting the police department and the campus.

“It hurts. It’s emotional right now,” McCullough said. “In the near term, until we can get

another narcotics dog trained up, it’s going to be a little bit of a void in our shifts, but we

will rely on our counterparts from the Champaign and Urbana police departments.”

McCullough said that even though Quinty was a narcotics dog, he was a big help for

many crimes that occurred throughout campus.

“He was such a good dog. He responded to all the priority calls,” McCullough said. “If a

student was robbed or if somebody went missing or if a felon was fleeing, causing a

safety issue for our community, Quinty would be out looking for him actively.”

Christensen agreed that having Quinty on the police team was very important for

campus safety.

“(Police dogs) help with narcotics investigations, and we’ve dealt with enough cases

where people’s lives have been ruined by drugs,” Christensen said. “We try to do our

best to keep them off campus.”

He explained that police dogs are “very valuable,” and that in addition to having Quinty,

the UIPD has an explosives­sniffing dog in case of bomb threats.

“These dogs love to work,” Christensen said. “That is their whole life.”

Beckman started training heavily with Quinty when he first became Quinty’s handler

eight years ago. McCullough praised the dog’s abilities to find contraband.

“Officer Beckman trained him to find articles,” McCullough said. “He found over a dozen

guns, whether discarded or in bushes. He located shell casings from bullets in areas

that had shootings. Just a plethora of drugs.”

Quinty and Beckman became very close, both on the job and at home, Christensen

said, stating that Quinty became a part of the Beckman family.

“The bond between canine handler and the police dog, it’s very, very special,”

Christensen said.

Dr. Timothy Fan, associate professor of veterinary clinical medicine, explained that

because Quinty was a dog older than 7 years, he was a lot more susceptible to

developing hemangiosarcoma. He also offered some insight into how the particular

cancer acts inside a dog’s body.

“The way that this cancer grows, it grows inside the body; often you don’t know that it’s

there until it gets to the point that it bleeds in the abdomen and leads to a collapse,” Fan

said. “The dog gets really, really weak, and they’re in shock. You typically cannot find it

until the dog becomes clinical. You can visit your veterinarian twice a year and have an

ultrasound for the abdomen. The most common clinical sign is that a dog becomes

weak and lethargic. Their abdomen becomes really extended.”

McCullough said that when Quinty was in the emergency room, officers from the UIPD

and the Champaign and Urbana police departments came to show support. The Urbana

Police Department handled the UIPD’s night calls so that officers could pay their

respects.

According to McCullough, Quinty was a dog who earned the level of respect given to

him during his final hours.

“He was one of the best police canines I’ve ever seen at work in my career,” he said.

“He had the same temperament as his handler, both hyper and strong work ethic.”

Fan advised dog owners to look for changes in their pets’ behaviors and get them

checked out right away. Signs to look for are a higher frequency of vomiting or a lower

energy level.

“The pet owner should meet with a veterinary oncologist,” Fan said. “Be educated on

them and up­to­date. Many of these dogs are recommended systemic chemotherapy.”

Hemangiosarcoma has a very high death rate because of the nature of the disease. Fan

said 90 to 95 percent of dogs die from the cancer, but if the disease is caught earlier

where the tumor hasn’t broken up and bled yet, the canine has a higher chance of living

longer.

Since Quinty just recently passed away, McCullough said the department hasn’t yet

planned an event to honor the dog, but the police department has plans to

commemorate Quinty’s legacy.

Christensen said Quinty’s death was a testament of his dedication to the UIPD.

“He went to work, he did his job and he found the drugs,” Christensen said. “He went

out happy.”

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Editor’s note: A previous version of this article stated Quinty was recently taken to the

University’s veterinary hospital for some tests. He was actually taken to his primary

veterinarian at that time and was taken to the University’s veterinary hospital Friday

night. The Daily Illini regrets the error.