K9 Phantom likely died from blood clot, Dayton police say


A Dayton police K9 who died suddenly while on duty Saturday morning likely died from a blood clot, according to police.

Officer Cleaver, who was Phantom’s handler, was on his way home with Phantom to give the 9-year-old dog a break when Phantom collapsed in the back of the cruiser.

Cleaver took Phantom to an emergency vet clinic where a medical team worked on him for 20 minutes but were not able to save him.

The veterinarian said Phantom most likely had a blood clot that worked its way into his brain, according to police.

“Phantom was a fantastic partner, wonderful, fun, loving and loyal,” said Cleaver. “He and I responded to more than 1,700 canine calls in our time together. He loved to come to work, every day.”

Cleaver has been a K9 handler for more than 20 years. Phantom was his third partner and was with the department for 7 ½years.

“He was eager to jump into the car each day and many times got upset at me for dressing up for work too slowly,” Cleaver said of Phantom. “He knew that as soon as I got my shoes, vest and uniform on that it was time to go. He never backed down, nor was he ever under any stress. He thought that coming to work and riding in the cruiser was fun.

“Phantom helped catch suspects and locate drugs, guns and ill-gotten money in order to take them off the streets. Over the years, we found lost children or adults who’d wandered away from the safety of their homes. During his career, Phantom found or located evidence that was vital to cases. All he ever asked for was a toy to play with in return for his efforts. Many times all he wanted was a pat on the head or to be told that he was a good boy. He would have given his life for me, or any other officer, and for any citizen as well. He was born and bred to work. He never questioned what we did or why we did it. He just went into each and every situation prepared to give his all, no questions asked, no fear, even though many times we were in harm’s way.

Phantom grew up with my kids and loved to be around children, which was evident when we visited schools to do demonstrations.”

The K9 had been receiving treatment for a mild vitamin deficiency  and enzyme/protein issue in his stomach for the last 6 months, but was doing well on medication, Cleaver said.

“His desire to be at work and perform his duties was only hampered a little by his age,” the officer added. “He was slowing down a little. He and I were supposed to retire soon, together.

“I could go on and on…he was so much fun, and we had a terrific and inseparable bond between us. It was very tragic that his death happened so quickly, now our buddy is gone and taking his place in heaven.”

Following Phantom’s death, there are four active K9s at the Dayton Police Department.

A memorial ceremony for Phantom is being planned by Dayton’s canine unit and will likely take place later this month.

The department and Cleaver thanked the community for its support and condolences following Phantom’s death.