Following surgery, hero K-9 is back on the job in Massachusetts

BURLINGTON, Mass. – A highly trained K-9 dog with the Burlington Police Department is back on the streets, following successful treatment for a cancerous growth performed by New England Veterinary Oncology Group (NEVOG) and BluePearl Veterinary Partners.

Havoc is the K-9 dog for the Burlington Police Department in Massachusetts.

Havoc is the K-9 dog for the Burlington Police Department in Massachusetts.

“He’s fantastic, he’s back to 100 percent,” said Officer Joe Papsedero, who is K-9 handler for the 95-pound, 7-year-old German shepherd named Havoc.

Havoc is the Burlington Police Department’s only K-9 dog and works as a patrol dog and as a narcotics dog. Among his biggest assignments: He assisted with the search for the Boston Marathon bombers.

Papsedero, who has had Havoc since the dog was 10 months old, said he’s grateful for the expert veterinary care from Havoc’s regular veterinarian, NEVOG and BluePearl. He added that it’s hard to put into words how much he and Havoc mean to each other. “He’s my best friend,” Papsedero said.

Papsedero noticed Havoc bleeding from his mouth recently, and assumed the dog had bitten his tongue during a training exercise. But when Papsedero looked into Havoc’s mouth, he saw a raspberry-sized growth, far back on his tongue.

He took Havoc to his primary veterinarian, Dr. Douglas Meade, who removed the growth and recommended a follow-up visit to a veterinary oncologist.

“I want the best,” Papsedero said.  Papsedero ultimately chose NEVOG, which is nearby in Waltham.

At NEVOG, Havoc was seen by Dr. Caleb Alexander.  He ordered chest X-rays, an abdominal ultrasound and additional tests. He was able to determine that the growth was a low-grade sarcoma and had not spread elsewhere into Havoc’s body.

Alexander also referred Havoc to Dr. William Snell, a board-certified veterinary surgeon at BluePearl. BluePearl and NEVOG are affiliated hospitals and are next door to each other. Snell performed surgery on June 9 to remove additional cancerous cells from Havoc’s tongue. Afterward, there was no evidence of cancer.


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Havoc is the K-9 dog for the Burlington Police Department in Massachusetts.

“Dr. Alexander and Dr. Snell are absolutely top-notch, I could not have asked for anything better,” Papsedero said.

Alexander and Snell said they considered it a privilege to treat Havoc. “You can tell he loves Officer Papsedero,” Alexander said. “Between the two of them, there’s just a beautiful connection.”

Alexander and Snell also said their care for Havoc shows how BluePearl and NEVOG partner every day with primary care veterinarians and clients, to improve the lives of pets.

“I think this is a classic example of good collaboration with a good outcome,” Snell said.