Meet Cancer Treatment Grant Recipient: Enforcement K-9 Xantho

Our first Police K9 cancer treatment grant recipient (provided January 2010) is an 8-year-old German Shepherd named Xantho. For 5 years, Xantho has worked 40 hours a week, engaged in police patrol and narcotics detection with the Little Rock, Arkansas Police Dept. But, he has now been sidelined due to a recently discovered hemangiosarcoma. Famous for his repeated bravery and success, his partner, Officer James Tankersley is far from alone in grieving this diagnosis.

Xantho is quite the famous K-9 in Little Rock. In May 2009 he helped the Little Rock Police solve a string of burglaries. All of them were committed by the same man, who as he was arrested, fought with officers and police canine Xantho. He actually tried to poke out Xantho's eyes, and Xantho did receive a small cut under one eye. But, as you can see on the left, the burglar was no match for this boy (who definitely hates bad guys). Limping out of the station, covered in bandages, we think this crook will think again about trying to hurt a K-9 Officer.

On Wednesday December 2nd 2009, K-9 Xantho was taken into Briarwood Animal Hospital after Officer Tankersley noticed he was not feeling well. Dr. Bob Hale examined Xantho and took x-rays of his abdomen. After reviewing the x-rays, Dr. Hale discovered that Xantho's spleen was enlarged and he had an abnormal amount of air trapped in his large and small intestines. Dr. Hale then performed and ultrasound on Xantho's abdomen and identified what he thought was an abnormal mass on Xantho's spleen and blood in his abdomen.

Dr. Hale consulted with Dr. Anthony Gary who is an Internal Medicine Specialist with Arkansas Veterinary Internal Medicine. Dr. Gary brought in his mobile ultrasound and, after examining Xantho, confirmed Dr. Hale's diagnosis of a tumor on Xantho's spleen. Since Xantho was in pain and was bleeding into his abdomen, Drs. Hale and Gary said that the only two choices of action would be surgery or euthanasia.

Dr. Hale believed that Xantho was strong enough to be a good candidate for a Splenectomy and, if the tumor were to found to be benign, then Xantho should have a full recovery. Chief Stuart Thomas was informed of the situation and agreed that, if there was a chance that Xantho would recover, he should have the surgery.

This was a difficult decision for Chief Thomas to make because he has been forced to run the Police Department on a very tight budget. In an attempt to ease some of the burden, the Little Rock Police K9 Association worked with Chief Thomas to help pay for the cost of Xantho's surgery and after-care.

On Thursday morning, Dr. Hale brought in his personal dog, Roux, to be a blood donor for Xantho. After receiving a blood transfusion from Roux, Xantho underwent surgery to remove his spleen and the attached tumor.

We added Xantho to our foundation newsletter, detailing his plight as well as more information about hemangiosarcoma. Just click here.


Officer James "Jim" Tankersley & K-9 Xantho


In late 1999 the Little Rock Police Citizen’s Police Academy Alumni Association offered to donate a K-9 to the police department. An announcement was made of an upcoming opening on the K-9 Unit and Officer Tankersley applied. In early 2000 the dog that the LRPCPAA had donated arrived and he was selected to become the newest member of the LRPD K-9 Unit. Officer Tankersley was partnered with “Beck”, a German Shepherd, and they began to bond and train together. During this time he also learned how to select, develop and train new K-9’s and has since trained or assisted in the training of seven K-9’s and their handlers. After a distinguished four-year career, Beck became sick with a still unknown illness that persisted off and on for three months. On the night of May 4th 2004, after tracking and apprehending a fleeing felon, Beck’s fever spiked and he appeared to be suffering from severe joint pain. Officer Tankersley took him first to the emergency Vet and then in to his regular Vet when they opened the next morning. Unfortunately, Beck could not overcome his illness and he passed away that day.

A search was begun for a new partner, and Xantho, a German Shepherd with papers from the Netherlands, arrived that summer from Czechoslovakia along with the four other dogs. In the fall of 2004 Xantho and Officer Tankersley certified in Patrol and Narcotics and they hit the streets.

Although an extremely high energy and high drive dog, when in “work mode” Xantho was happy to give big wet “kisses” to anyone who would let him. When it was time to work, there is no doubt that he is around because, as the other handlers have pointed out, he sounded like a hyena. He loved finding bad guys and narcotics, but playing with his toy was his favorite pastime.

Some of Xantho’s awards and recognitions include:

  • Arkansas 2005 Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award for District 2

  • LRPD Medal of Merit in 2006

  • Awards from the National Narcotics Detector Dog Association for narcotics detection in 2005 and 2006

  • Story about Xantho in the book K-9 Heroes by Jim Mayfield, Ph.D.

Although Xantho had been doing very well since his surgery and during his chemo treatments, the cancer returned and caused bleeding into his abdomen. As a result of the bleeding, Xantho's abdomen became distended and he developed severe anemia. Xantho took a turn for the worse  and began to have trouble walking. Xantho didn't meet Officer Tankersley at the door when he came home from work and he refused to eat or drink throughout the day. Officer Tankersley could tell that Xantho was in distress and that his quality of life had deteriorated to the point that he was no longer a happy dog. Officer Tankersley made the difficult decision that it was time to take Xantho in to Dr. Hale's office for one last visit. After the staff said their goodbye's, Xantho was humanely euthanized at 4:50pm. Xantho, who passed away quietly with Officer Tankersley at his side, will have a private cremation service.