Bane's final assignment: Retired police K-9 inspires during final chapter
ST. FRANCIS, Wis. (CBS 58)-- Through the end of his service and into retirement, St. Francis Police K-9 Bane and his handler, Detective Holly McManus, have shared all of their adventures with the world wide web.
Unfortunately, Bane's latest posts aren't as cheerful.
"I know that I'm going to lose him, and I also know that it's probably going to be sooner than I was anticipating," St. Francis Police Detective Holly McManus said.
For the better part of the past eight years, McManus and now-retired K-9 Bane have spent nearly every waking moment together.
"He had my back every day. He has literally saved my life and the life of other officers," McManus said.
From chasing down bad guys to stealing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, their adventures have been endless, and a lot of them documented on social media.
It's not hard for any of K-9 Bane's more than 6,000 Facebook followers to figure out the duo is inseparable.
"I think that K-9s share a bond with their handlers that is inexplicable and not able to be felt by anybody but another K-9 handler," McManus said.
Earlier this year, McManus observed Bane wasn't getting around as well as he used to.
"I noticed a change in his gait and a change in the way that he was getting up off the floor. He seemed uncomfortable," McManus said.
Scans and X-rays came back normal, but a DNA test diagnosed Bane with a neurodegenerative disease that will likely take his life.
"DM is terminal. There's no cure," McManus said.
Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) affects the spinal cord, causing weakness and paralysis starting in the hind paws and legs.
It's especially noticeable when Bane walks. His hind paws and legs drag on the ground.
"The walker prevents further injury and it makes his walks more comfortable," McManus said.
Eventually the disease will progress, causing him to lose control of his organs, bowel and bladder.
"They say the DM is painless. So, I guess if there's a silver lining in any of this, it's that the loss of mobility or the loss of movement in his body, hopefully he is not feeling that," McManus said.
McManus and K-9 Bane were forced to cut normal walks from two miles down to a quarter of a mile at best.
Now, the K-9 finds relief with acupuncture and hydrotherapy.
"We get him all geared up and we stick him in a water tank with a treadmill and we work on building strength in his body in general," McManus said.
The water allows K-9 Bane to preserve the muscles he still has control of while absorbing less impact.
"As long as we can maintain that muscle tone, we can mitigate the symptoms of DM and keep him around on this planet a little while longer," McManus said.
The treatment isn't cheap. McManus estimates that medical bills will likely add up to as much as $10,000.
"I had many offers from strangers, from people I didn't know, community members, friends, family saying how can we help," McManus said.
The detective found a way that people could give back to K-9 Bane now and even after he's gone.
"The K-9 Bane Hero Fund was the way I felt I could give back to him for everything he's given me," McManus said.
With a goal of raising $50,000, the K-9 Bane Hero Fund will help pay for K-9 Bane's medical treatment, plus cover the costs of a legacy statue that will be placed in his honor in front of the St. Francis Civic Center.
"He's the gold standard now," St. Francis Mayor Ken Tutaj said.
The gold standard whose likeness will be cast in bronze, engraved with his name and all future K-9s to come.
Tutaj, a member of the Common Council who approved this project, told CBS 58 that K-9 Bane earned it.
"He gave his heart and soul to the city. It's time we start giving that back," Tutaj said.
People can support the K-9 Bane Hero Fund by donating to his GoFundMe or by purchasing his merchandise at the police department.
"The fundraising efforts, the community outreach has helped to take my mind off of the eventual long-term prognosis here with Bane," McManus said.
For now, K-9 Bane remains the stoic police canine he's always been.
"He's been very patient with me," McManus said.
And McManus is focused on making all of their last moments together only the best.
"To him, I'm grateful," McManus said.
To see updates on K-9 Bane's health, follow his Facebook page.