Dog lovers are outraged over the death of a police dog in Georgia. He succumbed to heatstroke after being left in a police car.
According to a written statement from Woodstock Police Department spokeswoman Brittany Duncan, the three-year-old Belgian Malinois named Spartacus was found to be dead by his handler Monday night after leaving him in his car. The statement did not say how long the dog was left in the vehicle, but that a necropsy had determined that Spartacus died of heatstroke.
Police Chief Calvin Moss said the dog’s handler, 12-year veteran Chad Berry, immediately called his supervisor upon his discovery. He has been a K-9 handler for seven years.
“After the retirement of his first police K-9, who is now a family pet living with the K-9 handler, the handler is devastated by the loss of his second police K-9,” Duncan said in an emailed press release.
Regardless of the officer’s feelings of guilt and grief, he should be held to the same standards as anyone else. Though there is no specific law in Georgia against leaving a dog in a hot car, but certainly this falls under neglect and failure to provide an animal with adequate water and ventilation, which is illegal in Georgia.
“If you kill or harm a police dog or horse, it’s a felony,” said Joan Weatherford Sammond, president of the Georgia Humane Society.
However, as with the case of Marco, a Belgian Malinois who suffered the same fate as Spartacus, this officer is on paid administrative leave, pending investigation. Last year another police dog was found dead in an SUV after her handler left for three days. Lieutenant TJ Frye later resigned from the job, but no charges were ever filed.
“It was negligence,” Sammond asserted. “How do you leave your dog in the car, in the hot, August sun in Georgia? Why does he get to walk? He was negligent, and nothing was done.”
Animal lovers are calling for something to be done. A long day on the job is no excuse – it doesn’t fly when “ordinary” citizens leave their children or animals in a hot car, and it doesn’t fly for officers. They are not above the standards they hold citizens accountable for.
A memorial for Spartacus is being planned for a later date.