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 have been thirteen heat related K9 deaths in the US; twelve in a hot vehicle and one  overworked in 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

k9 casper day July 11, 2017 (1)

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

                                                                           💙🖤 

 

 

 

 

The Senseless Death of K9 Lina…Part 1

The Senseless Death of K9 Lina…Part 1

Madison County is in Northwest Arkansas and encompasses approximately  837 square miles. The last census from  2010 census indicates a population of 15,717. The  county seat is Huntsville, nicknamed the “Crossroads of the Ozarks“. Huntsville has a police department and coverage is also provided by the Madison County Sheriff’s Department (MCSO). The MSCO acquired  K9 Lina in either 2014 or 2015. As I’ve discovered since I started writing about K9 deaths, media reports often give conflicting information. I also learned that Arkansas does not  respond to FOIA requests  unless they are submitted by a resident of the state. What I do know is that through community donations , the MSCO was able to purchase a female  Belgian Malinois  from K9 Working Dogs International, LLC. located in Longford, Kansas. The website says that Police Dog Pricing ranges from $4,500.00 to $15,500.00 which is most likely based on how advanced the dog’s training is at time of purchase. I don’t know how much training K-9 Lina had  prior to joining Madison County, only that Deputy Cornelison trained to be her handler at K9 Working Dogs for three weeks. By the time she hit the road with her handler,  K-9 Lina was trained to track and detect narcotics. She also lived at his residence with his family and a family dog where she was housed in an outside kennel behind a barn.j-cornelison

What I DO know is that after being a K9 Officer for Madison County for one year, K-9 Lina died in Deputy Cornelison’s patrol vehicle, a Ford Crown Victoria, on September 9, 2016.

Again, more mainstream media discrepancies as some report K-9 Lina remained inside the vehicle when Cornelison arrived home from work at 6 am until the discovery of her body at 2:45 – 3 pm. Others reported that Cornelison  took Lina out of the vehicle and kennelled her until he was called out to assist with an accident at which point he removed her from her kennel and to the wreck with him. So K-9 Lina was either trapped inside a hot car for approximately (8) hours or (6).

This is a stock photo of a Ford Crown Victoria ~ not one from MCSO or any agency involved in this case.indianapolis_metropolitan_police_cruiser_1

He parked the patrol car in his driveway at approximately 9 am after which he performed a variety of tasks such as driving in his truck to help a friend fix a lawnmower, pay his water bill, talk on the phone with a family member and other errands. It wasn’t until approximately 2:45 – 3 pm, after greeting his other dog that he realized K9 Lina was quiet in the kennel. That’s when Deputy Cornelison discovered K-9 Lina  dead inside the patrol vehicle, one that was NOT equipped with a heat sensor. The outside temperature that day was 91 degrees which means that the interior temperature would have reached  109 degrees within 10 minutes.

Excellent temperature graphs, illustrations, sources and video.

According to Sheriff Phillip Morgan, Deputy Cornelian was  in a “state of shock” upon finding K-9 Lina’s lifeless body. Sheriff Morgan also told the media that his deputies had been working 50 hour weeks due to under staffing and were overworked and sleep deprived. Deputy Cornelian was placed on paid leave while neighboring Washington County conducted an investigation.

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Sheriff Morgan

I’ve read Deputy Jonathan Cornelison’s  timeline and as a nurse who has worked more than her share of long 12 -18 shifts with little sleep in between and a single parent of (3) children, I can understand part of it. The following however is where any similarities end:

Woke up at 6 a.m. Friday to take his kids to daycare, then responded to a wreck, with Lina in the back seat. Drove straight home, and went back inside at about 9 a.m.

At 9:50 a.m., he got a call to help his friend with a broken lawn mower. Ran errands until 1:40 p.m. and then met a Huntsville officer to review a DWI case. Returned home at about 2:45 p.m. and realized Lina was not in her kennel. Found her deceased in the back of his car.” Source: KHBS *Note It was 90 F the day of K9 Lina’s death

I don’t know where Deputy Cornelian originally hails from but I do know that he has lived in Arkansas for at least (9) years as he’s been employed by the Madison County Sheriff’s Dept. since 2007. That alone tells me he is more than familiar with the hot temperatures in a community whose motto is “Crossroads of the Ozarks”. The median temperature for early September in Huntsville is 80 – 88 F. Anyone should know that is too hot to allow a living animal or human to stay inside a car for more than a very brief time. But a LEO, who is trained to identify dangerous situations (hot cars being one of them) and to still leave his partner inside one is abhorrent. When he returned from the wreck, “with Lina in the back seat. Drove straight home, and went back inside at about 9 a.m.” He should have removed her from the vehicle the same time he removed himself. I do not buy into the overworked, tired, lack of sleep, skeleton crew excuses being offered by both the deputy and Sheriff Morgan; they are merely words being used to justify egregious behavior by a negligent handler. Deputy Cornelian knew it was hot out, as a LEO he inherently knew that hot cars are death traps, yet he still kept K-9 Lina inside a virtual oven while “At 9:50 a.m., he got a call to help his friend with a broken lawn mower. Ran errands until 1:40 p.m. and then met a Huntsville officer to review a DWI case. Returned home at about 2:45 p.m. and realized Lina was not in her kennel.” Source: KHBS

None of his actions during the time frame of nearly (6) hours were the those of a man so irrational from overwork and lack of sleep that his behavior can be considered innocent and K-9 Lina’s death merely an “accident” when in reality, it was a death sentence for her. This is blatant animal abuse ~ by cop. Which begs the question; how can we as a society trust an officer who is sworn to protect and serve us when he FAILS to protect the life of his own K9 partner?

On September 23,   Matt Durrett, 4th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney of Washington County,  announced that there was insufficient evidence to support an animal cruelty charge therefore Deputy Cornelian would not be charged. I do not concur with Prosecutor Durrett’s decision because criminal charges must be brought against the handler in this case. Otherwise, the negligent homicide of police dogs by human police officers will continue. My only solace is the knowledge and inherent belief that 90% of our law enforcement canine handlers are above reproach. Many would take a bullet for their partner. Once Prosecutor Durrett’s announced  that no charges would be forthcoming, Sheriff Morgan brought final disciplinary action against the deputy on September 26:

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.

A K9 Officer is a universal dog that can track, guard, catch and protect. A K9 Officer serves his duty just like any human officer. They will protect their handler with their life.

It is disheartening to know that the state of Arkansas takes hot car deaths so lightly. In August 2016, Hon. Wade Navamore , a circuit judge in Hot Springs,  was found innocent in the July 2015 death of his 17 month old son that he forgot in a hot car for (5) hours while at work.

The courtroom broke out in loud cheers as the verdict was read aloud by Special Judge John Langston. Naramore’s wife, Ashley, ran over to embrace her husband shortly after.

A sad indictment against the values and moral compass of one of America’s southern states.

I’ll leave you with this thought; think about being trapped in a hot car and fighting for every breath you could take until you just couldn’t breathe anymore and took your last one. Very heart wrenching and inexcusable!

lina-white

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 ~ Part 2: The aftermath of K9 Lina’s death