‘I wasn’t giving up’: Officer refused to let K9 partner go, raised funds to keep him

CLEVELAND – A University Hospitals police officer said he was not going to turn his back on his partner, who faced a pretty significant health scare.

“We were basically told he could not work again,” said Officer Matt Suster, as he reached down to gently pet his former partner, General. “I was devastated. That was probably the worst feeling I ever felt. There is nothing like the possibility of losing your partner.”

Suster and General met about two years ago, and worked together ever since.

However, this summer, Suster noticed General was not acting right.

“I was clocking out and I told him to sit, and he started to, but then stopped,” Suster said.

“That’s unusual because he usually does what I ask. So then we went to get in the car he jumped in and he yelped. I knew then something was wrong. He was hurt.”

Suster took him to the veterinarian and then to get an MRI.

General was diagnosed with Lumbosacral Stenosis, which caused the nerves in his back to be pinched and causes pain.

“He can be fine as a house pet but he couldn’t work,” Suster said.

Suster learned he would either need to return General so the department could get a replacement dog or pay $5,000 out of pocket to keep him.

Giving General up was not an option.

“It’s kinda like giving up one of your kids; it wasn’t going to happen,” Suster said.

He quickly started a GoFundMe account to raise the money, and in a few days he had the cash he needed to keep General.

Any additional money raised will be used to help others in similar situations.

“I’d like to help out other retired K9s,” Suster said.

He says it’s important to him, to make sure best friends stay together.