K-9 Freckles ~ A Senior Beagle’s Unnecessary Death…

K-9 Freckles ~ A Senior Beagle’s Unnecessary Death…

Okaloosa Correctional Institution is located in Crestview Florida, which is part of Okaloosa County and under the direct supervision of the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office. The correctional facility can house approximately 900 inmates and employs a variety of staff including K9s. One of them was K-9 Freckles, an 11-year-old beagle who, according to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, was “a great dog with a great nose who set the bar high for her counterparts.”

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Law enforcement had been looking for an alleged car thief, Eric Russell, since May 7, 2017, when he fled after officers attempted to pull him over for a traffic stop. On May 11 several agencies along with K9s took part in the manhunt for Russell. The OCSO utilized Okaloosa Correctional K-9 Freckles in the search and tragically she died. On their Facebook page, the OCSO said Freckles “either overheated or suffered a heart attack“.

Okaloosa County is located in the Northeast part of Florida close to the Alabama border. The weather on May 11 was approximately 85 degrees.

The Walton County Sheriff’s Office announced  they captured Eric Russell around 10 pm that same night. 

Beagles are mostly used in airports, harbors and correctional facilities to sniff out narcotics and any illegal substances. Because of their size, they are easy to lift into areas which a person otherwise can’t access. They can also be fast, swift and great for tracking. Beagles are also used as cadaver dogs to sniff out bodies or substances.

I kept reading comments by the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office that K-9 Freckles died “doing what she loved best”. On their Facebook page, where you can also view K-9 Freckles procession, many people posted that Eric Russell killed K-9 Freckles. This really bothered me for several reasons. She was 11- years old and as seen in this photo, a bit overweight.

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I started to do a bit of research and learned that the average life expectancy of a beagle is 12 to 15 years, with a median of 13.5 years. In this informative article by the National Beagle Club, a beagle is considered a senior at age 7. This also addresses the problems seniors develop such as the decrease in their ability to regulate their body temperature, arthritis, and excess weight. Still curious, I emailed a long time handler friend and asked his opinion. He was kind enough to allow me to use it in my post as long as I removed any personal information.

Honestly, I’ve only seen them used as narcotic dogs and they excel at it. Beagles can be used to track but it’s not very realistic to have them actively track in a manhunt despite their great noses. Scenario – we’re tracking a suspect that may or may not be armed and he runs into the woods ok? The beagle would be able to track him fine but when he located the suspect what could the beagle do for me? Whereas if I’m using a Mal or GSD whose also certified in tracking, I can send him in on the suspect. Chances are he would comply more with what I’m saying with an aggressive sounding/looking Mal or GSD standing there as opposed to a beagle. And if the suspect resisted, a Mal or GSD could easily subdue him where a beagle can’t.

I reached the conclusion that there was NO excuse for this. This senior K9 officer was used to track a man who stole “Donnie’s truck” (found in one of the comments on the Facebook page) among other vehicles.  K-9 Freckles was a “jail dog” and as such would have been used to detect contraband inside the facility. I  don’t understand why they felt the need to utilize her for a car thief. Eric Russell wasn’t being hunted because of a violent crime such as rape or murder so why risk the health of a senior dog? Part of the responsibility that goes with being a K9 handler is to use common sense when utilizing them. One of the biggest considerations while working with a K9 is their health, fitness, and welfare. According to the National Police Dog Foundation, the average retirement age is approximately 10 years which is contingent on their health status. 

Chances are OSI has younger German Shepherds or Belgian Malinois to handle out of control inmates, riots and so forth. At age 11 K-9 Freckles should have been retired or strictly limited to inside the jail. Instead, she ran after a car thief till she died. Despite the Facebook posts calling K-9 Freckle’s death a LODD (line of duty death), I don’t see it that way. She died because either her handler or someone within the OCSO made the decision to take an 11-year-old dog carrying extra pounds on a small frame and have her track a car thief in 85-degree weather. This was not a line of duty death nor a death doing something she loved. It was a grievous and senseless death due to a poor decision and complete lack of judgment by whoever was in charge of K-9 Freckles. 

Several Florida handlers have made heinous blunders the past few years resulting in the death of their dogs. Even with the death of K-9 Freckles, there are more to come for the Summer of 2017.

K-9 Freckles

EOW  May 11, 2017

Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office FL

She has gone home to rest for the final time

“Officer  Kilo Freckles is 10-42 … Good Girl Freckles”

K9

The first to sense the hostility of a suspect,
The first to react to protect his master.
The first to enter where danger lurks.
The first to detect the hidden intruder.
The first to take action against violence.
The first to sense his master’s joy.
The first to know his master’s sorrow or fear.
The first to give his life in defense of his master.
The last to be forgotten by those who work with others like him.
They know him as a “Partner,” not just an animal.

 

💙Next up ~ another Florida K9 dies while trapped in a hot car🖤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

K-9 Bak’s Horrific Death ~ His Killer Returns…

K-9 Bak’s Horrific Death ~ His Killer Returns…

This is an update on another K9 unresolved hot car death from 2016. It is particularly gruesome. 

I first brought you the story of K-9 Bak on August 30, 2016, in a story called What Is It With These Psycho Cops?? Bak’s death was so disturbing, so egregious that I mentioned him in several posts including The Tragedy of K-9 Bak  on November 3, 2016.

Eight-year-old K-9 Bak was with the Stephens County OK Sheriff’s Dept. for six years. He was dual trained in both narcotics and detection and according to Sheriff Wayne McKinney, brought excellent work to the department. For the past four years, he was partnered with Deputy Matthew Peck, with whom he resided. Ironically, both K-9 Bak and Deputy Peck had both been with the department for six years.

On August 3, 2016, Deputy Peck finished his shift and returned home with Bak in the vehicle. Peck was off duty until August 5. We don’t know if K-9 Bak lived inside Peck’s home or in an outside kennel. What we do know however is that when Peck exited the patrol unit on August 3, he left K-9 Bak inside. Left him with no food, no water, and no air flow.

The outside temperature on August 3 was 100 degrees F  and remained high the rest of the week.

When Deputy Peck entered the patrol unit on August 5, he discovered his partner’s dead body. There was also a noticeable odor. In the initial media reports there were some discrepancies as to exactly when on August 5 Peck discovered K-9 Bak deceased; one report said he discovered him as soon as he entered the patrol vehicle and another said it wasn’t till he arrived at the Sheriff’s Department then reentered the vehicle to go to court that he made the gruesome discovery. In either event, the dog was left unattended for 38 hours. I cannot comprehend how a handler who has been partnered with a K9 for four years fails to notice that the dog is not out and about. Did it dawn on Peck when Bak’s usual meal time rolled around? Did he once stop and think, “Where is my partner”?When you handle a dog every working day, month after month, they become just as close to you as any human partner. If a human officer willfully abandoned his partner to die of heat exhaustion, he’d be not only fired, he’d immediately be brought up on felony murder charges.

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Matthew Thomas Peck was arrested on August 29 and charged with one count of cruelty to an animal, a felony punishable by imprisonment for up to five years, and a fine of up to $5,000. After booking he was released on bond.

Matthew Peck

I had planned on attending his hearing scheduled for November 30, 2016, but was notified by the district attorney’s office that Peck had been deployed and would be leaving prior to November 30, therefore, the hearing was being postponed. He was deployed to the Ukraine on November 28 with the Oklahoma National Guard Company A 45th Brigade.

The wait began.

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On July 26, 2017, Matthew Peck’s unit returned to Oklahoma.

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He has a Preliminary Hearing Conference scheduled for October 11, 2017, at 9 am at the Stephens County Courthouse. All filed documents pertaining to this case are public record and available online at the Oklahoma State Courts Network. Once the link opens it will automatically be on the Stephens County page. Enter case number CF-16-387 and his case will appear. Documents can either be viewed or downloaded.

Although it’s imperfect, justice does still exist in the world. I have faith in Stephens County Assistant District Attorney Cortnie Siess to ensure that K9 Officer Bak receives it and that his slow and agonizing death does not go unpunished.

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K-9 Bak

EOW August 5, 2016

Stephens County Sheriff’s Department

He has gone home to rest for the final time

“Officer Kilo Bak is 10-42 … Good Boy Bak”

 

💙💙The  blue line has not forgotten you💙💙

*To be continued in November 💙🖤

 

Next Up ~ A loyal K9 is brutally murdered in AR

 

K-9 Doki ~ Have You Forgotten Him?…

K-9 Doki ~ Have You Forgotten Him?…

Heat-related K9 deaths ~ and so it begins for 2017.

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K-9 Doki, a two-year-old Belgian Malinois with the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office, Ridgeland, SC, died on April 20, 2017.  According to the Jasper County Sun Times, K9-Doki’s death was attributed to heat exhaustion when the K-9 vehicle he was in experienced a “malfunction causing the temperature to rise to an unsafe level,” the JCSO said. He was rushed to a veterinarian hospital where tragically he died. According to Accuweather.com, the outside temperature in Ridgeland, SC on April 20 was 85 degrees F.

Doki 2 year old Belgium Malinois

How long K-9 Doki was in the vehicle is unknown. Very little is known about K-9 Doki except that he had been with the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office for approximately one year. This article refers to the announcement of his death on the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page but I wasn’t able to locate it.  They have two Facebook pages but the first one says it’s their official page whereas the second doesn’t.

In either case, neither page mentions K-9 Doki nor are there any photographs, almost as if he’s been forgotten. 

I  was also unable to find any mention of a funeral, memorial service or tribute of any kind. It is as if he never existed which is truly heartbreaking because Doki’s life did matter. Perhaps The JCSO should read this and take heed.

A Working Dog’s Oath
I will lay down my life for you
and expect nothing but love in return.
I protect my officer with my life,
and would gladly take a bullet in his place.
I am sent in to find lost children
and fugitives on the run.
I find drugs and weapons and even bombs.
I am the first sent in  

and sometimes the last to leave.
I am the nose and ears of my officer.

I will protect and serve him.
I would die for him and for you.
I only ask for compassion and a kind word

K9

The first to sense the hostility of a suspect,

The first to react to protect his master.

The first to enter where danger lurks.

The first to detect the hidden intruder.

The first to take action against violence.

The first to sense his master’s joy.

The first to know his master’s sorrow or fear.

The first to give his life in defense of his master.

The last to be forgotten by those who work with others like him.

They know him as a “Partner,” not just an animal.

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Your Life Mattered Dear Boy…

 

🖤Next Up ~ The return of a monster.💙

Summer 2017 ~ More K9 Deaths Including Murder…

Summer 2017 ~ More K9 Deaths Including Murder…

In the summer of 2016, there were twelve known heat-related deaths of K9s who were left in a hot vehicle by their handler. As of August 22, 2017, there has been thirteen heat-related K9 deaths in the US; twelve in a hot vehicle and one overworked in the oppressive heat. It doesn’t end there however because another K9 was “mysteriously” murdered, bringing the total death rate to fourteen.

Every year the K9 death toll climbs despite more public awareness. But then, these dogs don’t die at the hand of a member of the public but rather, through the negligent actions of their handler. This is not simply not acceptable. Police officers need to be held to a higher standard to protect their canine partners; a highly skilled and trained dog that would take a bullet intended for his human. The rise in heat-related K9 deaths are preventable and illustrate acts of negligence or over-reliance on technology to protect these dogs.  Safety monitoring system aside, how does one “forget” their partner?  These K9s are the unsung heroes of any police department plus loyal companions who are frequently put in harm’s way because, like their human partner, their job is to protect and serve. I thought law enforcement as a whole had progressed to the point where departments placed the same importance on a K9 officer as they do on a human one; that their service, sacrifices, and lives are viewed with the same intensity as a human.  Sadly I was mistaken for it appears that many departments view these invaluable canines as mere equipment, disposable commodities. A paltry memorial service (if at all), no media coverage past the initial death, and the department “circles the wagons” around the handler, often not releasing his name for months. He’s allowed to continue working pending investigation or sometimes suspended with pay.

To illustrate the integral role canines have in law enforcement, I’ve chosen three cases from 2017 that demonstrate the value these remarkable animals bring to their departments and community.

K-9 Casper Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office West Palm Beach, FL

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On May 12, 2017, Casper, a 4-year-old K9 SWAT and bomb detection dog with the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office, took a bullet for his handler during a Jupiter, Florida, shootout. Miraculously, the bullet missed K-9 Casper’s vital organs and he was saved with immediate veterinary intervention. The story and heartwarming video can be seen here in a video provided by the PBSO. In a media interview, his handler describes the harrowing ordeal and how grateful he is to his partner.

K9 Casper

K-9 Casper has since returned to work and July 11, 2017, was named  “K-9 Casper Day” in Palm Beach County. The suspect, 46-year-old Philip O’Shea, was killed at the scene.

K-9 Cain Crossville Police Department  TN

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On August 2, K-9 Cain, a 3-year-old trained in patrol and narcotics with the Crossville Police Department in Tennessee, died after being stabbed multiple times by a suspect he was pursuing. Despite heroic efforts by his handler and a Crossville Fire Department member,  this hero succumbed to his injuries. He was honored in a moving funeral service attended by hundreds on August 11.

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Courtesy of Crossville PD

His grief-stricken handler talks about losing his faithful partner in one of the passionate descriptions I’ve ever heard of the bond between a handler and their dog. The suspect, 28-year-old Dustin Lee Dixon, remains in custody.

K-9 Lex Adams County Sheriff’s Office CO

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On August 16, 2017, K-9 Lex, a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois certified in narcotics and patrol with the Adams County Sheriff’s Office in Colorado, saved his injured partner by opening a latched gate with his paw and going to his partner’s aid . The dynamic duo had become separated in a chase when the deputy jumped a fence to pursue the suspect and became embroiled in a fight.  The handler was hospitalized for his injuries but made a full recovery. The suspect, 25-year-old Gabriel Steven Garcia, was charged with attempted first-degree murder and assault in the attack on the deputy and remains in custody with a latch he can’t open.

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 Once again, a dog comes to their human partner’s aid.

K9

The first to sense the hostility of a suspect,

The first to react to protect his master.

The first to enter where danger lurks.

The first to detect the hidden intruder.

The first to take action against violence.

The first to sense his master’s joy.

The first to know his master’s sorrow or fear.

The first to give his life in defense of his master.

The last to be forgotten by those who work with others like him.

They know him as a “Partner,” not just an animal.

 

Next Up ~ K9 Doki

                                                                           💙🖤 

 

 

 

 

Summer & More K9 Deaths But First…

Summer & More  K9 Deaths But First…

Before I begin detailing the 2017 senseless, heat-related K9 deaths and one K9 who was mysteriously murdered, I want to do an update on several deaths from the summer of 2016.

I first wrote about the hot car death of K-9 Lina, an officer with the Madison County Sheriff’s department in November 2016,  The Senseless Death of K-9 Lina….Part 1

I knew there would be the second part because no decision had been made regarding disciplinary action or charges against the handler who had forgotten about her in a hot patrol unit parked in his driveway. Little did I know how convoluted her story would become until it began unfolding. I eventually wrote four parts because I wanted the public to know how some departments dismiss a hot car death as “an unfortunate accident”. The negligent handler might receive a minor disciplinary action but charges aren’t usually brought and if they are it’s typically a misdemeanor. The reasoning behind the prosecutor’s decision (with department input) basically comes down to negligence versus intention. Was the handler negligent? If the parties involved believe this then the K9s death is ruled accidental. If they believe the handler had intent then it’s criminal. I agree there’s a difference between intention and negligence for clearly in most cases but not all,  the K9s death was not the handlers intent. However, prosecutors and departments cannot continue to dismiss these deaths as unfortunate accidents and therefore deem the handler simply negligent. They must be held to a higher standard to protect their partners. These deaths are preventable and illustrate acts of wanton negligence or over-reliance on technology to protect the dogs when in reality, it is the handler’s responsibility. When an officer is partnered with a K9, they become just as close as a human partner. Would they lock their human partner in a vehicle for hours? With no means of escape? Unequivocally the answer is no. And if they did? The charges would be much harsher than a low-level misdemeanor and their careers would instantly end. Yet the powers to determine time and time again that the K9’s death is negligent accompanied by a plethora of excuses for the officer; overworked sleep deprivation ~ the list is endless.

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The September 9, 2016, hot car death of K-9 Lina was deemed an accident. Matt Durrett, 4th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney announced on September 23 that he was not charging Deputy Cornelison. To his credit, on September 26, Sheriff Phillip Morgan took disciplinary action for K-9 Lina’s death:

Deputy Cornelison will:

  1. Be suspended without pay for 60 days.
  2. Be removed from the K9 program.
  3. Be decertified as a K9 Handler.
  4. A letter of reprimand will be placed in his file.
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Sheriff Phillip Morgan

The community rallied around the deputy by forming a Facebook support group and collecting funds to help him while on the unpaid suspension. Finally, on November 12, a memorial service for K-9 Lina was held. Yet her name wasn’t on the MCSO Memorial Page.

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She was only two years old.

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Now…

On January 1, 2017, Madison County had a new sheriff,  Sheriff Rick Evans.

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K-9 Lina is finally listed on the MCSO Memorial page. In June 2017, a new K9 handler was announced on the MSCO website. Former Sheriff Phillip Morgan kept his word about having heat-sensing equipment in the K9 vehicles:

Clint Ham, is our new K-9 Handler, he has been partnered up with Kandy, and equipped with a new vehicle which has been paid for with 100% drug forfeiture funds, the vehicle is equipped with all the latest equipment, including heat sensor/alarms which will signal the handler if the temperature in the vehicle rises to a dangerous level, in addition it will roll the windows down, and will activated lights and siren if the condition is not corrected. Kandy from all indication will be an outstanding asset to the Madison County Sheriff Office.

As for Deputy Jonathan Cornelison? He has been promoted and is now Corporal Cornelison.

K9 Lina Cornelison

 K-9

The first to sense the hostility of a suspect,

The first to react to protect his master.

The first to enter where danger lurks.

The first to detect the hidden intruder.

The first to take action against violence.

The first to sense his master’s joy.

The first to know his master’s sorrow or fear.

The first to give his life in defense of his master.

The last to be forgotten by those who work with others like him.

They know him as a “Partner,” not just an animal.

58249abc79c29.image copy

 

Lina, we haven’t forgotten…