K9 Lina ~ The Blame Game Part 3…

K9 Lina ~ The Blame Game Part 3…

The conclusion of K9 Lina’s tragic story was so bizarre that it’s taken me awhile to not just fact check but to comprehend what I was reading. I had written about K9 Lina’s hot car death shortly after it happened in September 2016 but opted not to blog about it; in November I changed my mind. I began to research to so that I could bring my original story current. What I began to find, for the lack of a better word, disturbed me so I continued to dig even after posting The Senseless Death of K9 Lina…Part 1 . The very same day I made a startling discovery which I  briefly touched upon in my post  Made An Unusual Discovery . What I’d uncovered made it necessary to write a second post entitled Death of K9 Lina ~ The Aftermath Part 2. This will be (I hope) the final post in K9 Lina’s sad trilogy. I’m also going to deviate from my usual post style by using fewer hyperlinks and photos because all the details leading up to her death including the timeline of her handler has been given in the first two parts as well as photographs. Instead, I’m going to focus on what I stumbled upon but first, how that came to pass.

In the first few days after K9 Lina’s hot car death hit the news, I was reviewing articles online and came across one called, Social Media Backlash Prompts Online Support Group After K9 Officer’s Death  , written by an Arkansas reporter on September 11 ~ two days after Lina died.  I don’t have an active Facebook account but wanted to see the “social backlash”  the article said was being generated on Facebook so asked my daughter if I could use her iPad for the afternoon. I quickly found what I believed was the backlash; a public support group for Deputy Cornelison called Supporters Of Jonathan Cornelison  What I found particularly interesting is that the page was created on September 10, the day after K9 Lina’s death.

One thing led to another, like a domino effect but the single most riveting finding was that his support group members were adamant that the deputy was a good kid, this was an accident that could have happened to anyone, and the town was standing behind him. Many, many prayers were offered for this great guy yet none for K9 Lina. I was disgusted by the never-ending sanctimonious posts and stopped looking at the page. A few days later I caved, once again borrowed my daughters iPad and was immediately shocked by several things. A photo was posted by one of Deputy Cornelison’s  relatives of an ad she’d placed in the local paper about donating towards “Lina’s Law” plus writing to the Arkansas state representatives about implementing a law requiring heat sensors in all K9 vehicles hence Lina’s Law. Even though the support page is public, I vacillated about posting screenshots. I am going to make an exception however with the one explaining Lina’s Law only because it also addresses another issue. I chose to cover her first name and photo but everything can be viewed on Supporters Of Jonathan Cornelison :

I also noticed that the number of group members had grown exponentially in just a few days but that the common theme remained; he’s a good kid, great guy, this wasn’t his fault and prayers. I must say, Madison County residents certainly stand by their man. Once again, barely a word about Lina or nary a prayer for her or how she suffered in a virtual oven of death. I noticed that the reporter of the article which first caught my eye was now a group member as were several MCSO employees. The consensus was that Sheriff Morgan was to blame for Lina’s death because he wouldn’t approve $700 to purchase a heat sensor device. Members posted that had they known the sheriff didn’t approve the cost they would have donated the monies so a system could have been installed in the good kid’s vehicle. One of Deputy Cornelison’s  fellow K9 handlers addresses it here as well as in other areas of social media. I take umbrage at this handler’s posting because a heat sensor unit is meant to be utilized while the handler and K9 are working.  And while they’re also a virtual lifesaver if a K9 remains in a vehicle too long, I doubt they are meant to serve as a technical dog sitter in the middle of a very hot day for over five (5) hours while the handler is off duty and fixing lawnmowers, paying bills, meeting at a local sports bar and so forth. In my opinion, that type of behavior is irresponsible and negligent. While I am not a law enforcement officer, I have one in my immediate family plus have been friends with many during my life, especially during the years I was involved in Schutzhund training and competition with my own dogs. What this does tell me is that “great kid” aside, Deputy Cornelison had no strong ties to K9 Lina despite the fact that he was vocal about the need for a K9 and helped solicit funds to purchase her. When you train and handle a dog, they become just as close to you as any human partner. You wouldn’t lock your human partner in a car for hours and walk away from them. Not anywhere or anytime but especially not in a southern town nicknamed Crossroads of the Ozarks in 90-degree mid-day heat! How can you forget you have a dog in your car? Not a misstep. Just ignorant and uncaring.

As I wrote earlier, the support group is public so anyone can read it however in order to comment you must be a member. A relative of Deputy Cornelison (the same relative that put the Lina’s Law ad in the paper) posted on September 10 ~ the day the page was created, thanking everyone for their support of Cornelison. Then I saw it ~ staring at me from my laptop screen. I vividly remember the moment as confusion rapidly set in and my heartbeat quickened. A group member responded to the relative’s post of thanks. Who was this member? Close family of a disgraced former handler in a state over 300 miles away! This member went on to describe the disgraced handler, his dead K9, his family and his service record. Both family members commiserated on how unfair it was to the officers and prayed. Honest to God I had to shut my laptop down because reading that exchange took K9 Lina’s saga completely over the top for me. I didn’t look at the support group for several days and when I did more shocks. Another close family member of the disgraced handler from 300 miles away was a group member as well who was commenting and receiving sympathy. I  actually wondered if handlers whose K9 partners died because of the handler’s negligence reached out to each other through social media ~ something akin to a club or unofficial group.  Perhaps they do… Finally someone asked if anyone knew about a service for Lina but apparently, no one did. On September 23, Matt Durrett, 4th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney for Washington County announced he was not pressing criminal charges against Deputy Cornelison because there was insufficient evidence to prove that he intended to hurt K9 Lina. Then on September 26, Sheriff Morgan announced the disciplinary action Deputy Cornelison would be subject to which included suspension without pay for 60 days. I checked the support group later in the week and found they had erupted in joy that no charges were brought. They also opened a bank account so that people could contribute to the Cornelison family as the deputy would be without pay for 60 days. The chatter blaming Sheriff Morgan for K9 Lina’s death continued and this was posted:

14500367_1340472699317029_6968851985426351727_o

I have no idea why or what led up to it but assume that, like most social media forums, there is an abundance of private conversations. Finally, at the end of September into early October, several group members commented on K9 Lina in passing. To be brutally honest by this time I was thoroughly sickened and disgusted by what I read and rarely looked at the support group. The defense of the “good kid”, sparse mention of his deceased K9 partner, blame shifting, Bible quotes, endless prayers for the deputy yet not for the dog who suffered horribly while the good kid ran around doing errands and having a meeting in a cool sports bar. Endless condemnation of people who don’t understand; of how great a guy he is, of how accidents can happen to anybody, of how the sheriff was responsible for K9 Lina’s death because he wouldn’t approve a $700 heat sensor system. The common theme of “a little mistake anyone could have made” and the myriad of excuses given!  The ugly reality is a handler left his partner in a hot car too long because he FORGOT about her.  Yes, it’s a shame the vehicle wasn’t  safety-equipped but that’s not why Lina died. She died because she was left in a vehicle the handler knew had no backup heat sensors. She died because Deputy Cornelison FAILED to have his partners back!

Then finally! On November 15, Deputy Cornelison’s wife posted K9 Lina’s obituary and a link to her memorial which was held on November 12, 2016. One of the MCSO deputies commented “If you scroll to the bottom of the obituary there is a recording of her last call”; I chose not to.

582c6f70ab094-image

At this point, I decided to blog K9 Lina’s tragic story if for no other reason than to try and make sense of it. However, try as I might that never happened. I rarely looked at Deputy Cornelison’s support group because nothing changed. The members continued to support him by extolling his virtues (and to be fair he probably is a nice person), blame shifting was still there plus a plethora of excuses for this “accident”. Several spoke about how hard he worked which was also blamed on the sheriff, and how busy he was when not working as a deputy for MCSO. Life is hard these days for many people; long hours in a competitive world, children that need to be driven to after-school activities, and even like Jonathan Cornelison did on the day of Lina’s death ~ help a friend out. However, none of that justifies leaving a K9, your partner plus the taxpayers K9 dog, trapped in a hot vehicle during a hot day. His supporters repeatedly write “He’s only human” to which I say K9 Lina paid a devastating price because of his “humanity”.

A young beautiful dog is dead and the handler not only needs to take full responsibility for her death but he should be held criminally responsible. Because at the end of the day, a loyal K9 Officer suffered and died after being let down by the person she trusted most. To me, that is a horrible mistake, not a little one to be trivialized by his Facebook supporters. Again I am not in law enforcement but if I was and one of my fellow officers left his K9 partner that long in a hot car with obviously no thought as to “where is my partner, and how is she doing”, I  would think twice about having him as my backup. However judging from the comments on his support page, I  seriously doubt that would ever happen.

 In Part 2  I posted a screenshot of The Madison County Record which went online approximately 1.5 hours after K9 Lina’s death. It said:

The Record received an anonymous tip from a person Friday afternoon stating that Lina’s death was from being left in the car. At that time, Morgan told The Record that the incident was under investigation and details surrounding the death were unavailable.

That has never been explained but on September 12, 2016, the MCSO gave a detailed release to the Madison County Record  of the financial costs involved in K9 Lina’s purchase and training.

The final twist in K9 Lina’s story? As of December 4, 2016, she is not listed on the

Madison County Sheriff Office Memorial page.

My closing thoughts on this senseless tragedy are as follows. This offense by Deputy Cornelison is multi-faceted. I can’t think of anything more offensive than to kill your partner, either by act or omission. For those who serve in the line of fire, they put near blind trust in their partners. To break that trust, even though their partner is a K9 Officer, becomes an issue for every other man and woman in the department. It begs the question “If you fail to protect your own partner, will you protect me when my back is turned?”
The other side of this issue is that a K9 is a significant investment for a department. The average cost of training and acquiring a K9 and then to train the K9 handler can cost in excess of $20,000. Then, depending on whether or not advanced training perhaps up to $30,000 on average.
If a law enforcement officer is found to be neglectful in the protection of his K9 partner he should be dismissed from his position as a K9 Handler and any other charges as deemed appropriate by the Prosecutor’s Office. He should not be allowed a “pass go card”.

Instead, Deputy Jonathan Cornelison got a  Facebook support page which as of December 3, 2016, had 671 members which include the family of the disgraced handler 300 miles away.

Our planet is truly insane

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.

lina-white

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 understaffing and were overworked and sleep deprived. Deputy Cornelian was placed on paid leave while neighboring Washington County conducted an investigation.

p-morgan
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 lawnmower. 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 an 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 an 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 lawnmower. 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 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

 

The Tragedy of K9 Bak…

The Tragedy of K9 Bak…

Several months ago I wrote a post entitled What Is It With These Psycho Cops??? which focused on K-9 Bak of the Stephens County OK Sheriff’s Department. K-9 Bak was 8 years old and had served with the Sheriff’s Department since he was 2. For the past four years, he was partnered with (former) Deputy Matthew Peck with whom he also resided. Coincidentally, both Bak and Peck had worked for the Sheriff’s Department for six years. According to Sheriff Wayne McKinney, K-9 Bak was an excellent dual purpose dog used for detection and narcotics.

When former deputy Matthew Peck returned home from duty on August 3, 2016, he left K-9 Bak in the vehicle for approximately 38 hours with no water, food or ventilation. He literally closed the car door and walked away. Even after everything I’ve written about this case I still cannot fathom what motivated Peck. I’ve read one or two media reports that said “people” had claimed that Peck had started leaving K-9 Bak in the patrol car on his days off but I’ve encountered so many discrepancies with this case that I’m not sure what’s true and what’s not except that a noble K9 (often called a #BlueDog) died an excruciating death, alone in a patrol car, when the outside temperatures hovered at 100 degrees.

On August 5, Peck returned to his vehicle and found his K9 partner dead inside at which point he notified Undersheriff John Smith. It was reported that as officers approached Peck’s vehicle they could smell a decomposing animal. An internal investigation was launched and Peck was terminated on August 8. A criminal investigation however continued and on August 29 District Attorney Jason Hicks office charged Matthew Peck 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. Peck’s bond was set at $5,000 and his first appearance was yesterday,  November 2, at the Stephens County Courthouse. Court documents state that Peck found  K-9 Bak dead at approximately 10:40 a.m. August 5, 2016.

 In my original post on K-9 Bak, I  wrote about the physiological effect heat exhaustion has on a canine so won’t repeat it other than to say the dog suffers terribly. I have a feeling that K-9 Bak was crated inside the patrol vehicle although I could be wrong. The reason I think this is twofold. If Peck truly had started leaving the dog in the vehicle on his days off it would be easier to clean urine and feces out of a crate as opposed to the car seat. Secondly, even if August 3 was the first time Peck left Bak in the vehicle, after 38 hours Peck would have opened the door to utter destruction yet none of the media reports mentioned a damaged car. A trapped canine will literally shred the interior of a vehicle in an attempt to escape the oppressive heat. As the heat rises, the trapped dog will claw, bite and/or try to chew their way out.

k9-officer-article-image

This is the interior of a police cruiser from Montville Township Police Department in Ohio. K-9 Beny was trapped inside the police vehicle for four hours on September 28, 2014, and died. As the heat rose, K-9 Beny, trapped inside the car, tried to claw, bite and chew his way out. The temperature that day was 80 degrees. His handler, Sgt. Brett Harrison was charged with two counts of animal cruelty but only found guilty of one. He remains a sergeant with the Montville PD but is no longer a handler.

 

This has been an unbelievingly difficult story to follow because of all the inaccuracies I’ve discovered. For example, in the hometown newspaper, The Duncan Banner, one article said that K-9 Bak died on August 5 yet another one of their articles said he died on August 24. Then there’s the mainstream media ~ the local affiliates for ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox. One would report that Peck discovered K-9 Bak when he approached the vehicle that morning while another said:

On Friday morning, as Beck was driving to court, according to WXIN (Indianapolis), he noticed the smell coming from the back of his patrol car. On seeing the rotting body of his partner in the back, Peck went straight to his superior, Undersheriff John Smith.

I’ve often wondered how well reporters fact check because through my K9 advocacy work I find a multitude of errors and often one reporter writes verbatim what another reporter has already written. 

On November 2, Matthew Peck had a Preliminary Hearing Conference which I chose not to attend as it is very basic. At the conference, he was scheduled for a Preliminary Hearing in front of a Special Judge on November 30, 2016, at 9am which I planned to attend. At this hearing, the prosecutor will prove to the judge that a crime was committed and witnesses will testify.  If the judge agrees then a trial date is set. Since Preliminary Hearing Conferences can be continued before the date it’s scheduled and often on the actual date, I was paying a bit extra to buy my plane ticket with cancellation insurance. I researched package deals last night (flight, hotel and car rental) and was going to make my purchase this afternoon. Then an email arrived from the assistant district attorney; Matthew Peck has been deployed and will be leaving before November 30. Amazing! Six years with the Sheriff’s Department and not once was he deployed but now that he’s facing a felony charge ~ poof. Did I also mention his father is with the OSP and he has a brother in law enforcement as well?

Peck was in the military at some point and probably remained active with the National Guard. Somehow it doesn’t seem right that he can leave with this charge pending but this is the United States where we are innocent until proven guilty.

Peck Military
Undated photo of Matthew Peck

So where do I go from here? With Peck deployed the trial will be postponed for a long time. Emotions surrounding K-9 Bak’s horrific death will go by the wayside. His name will come up in a Google search as he joins the growing list of K9s who die in hot cars; his life reduced to a mere number. People will move on and forget about a noble and devoted dog who contributed so much to both the Stephens County Sheriffs Department as well as the community he served faithfully for six years. And what about Matthew Peck? What made him so void of humanity that he could essentially murder his partner in such an unconscionable way?  What kind of human, especially one sworn to serve and protect, does something so savage?

Where did K-9 Bak come from? Was he imported as many working dogs are or from a United States breeder?  Where did he live/work prior to joining the department when he was 2? Was he fully trained when he became an officer for Stephens County? What was the plan for him as he approached retirement? There are too many questions that need to be answered and until they are, I simply cannot chalk Bak’s life up to a statistic and forget about it. I have come to care about this issue more than I intended when I first wrote about it. I’ve invested myself and simply put, need to see it through.

As for the ever-increasing number of K9 hot car deaths? Perhaps the only thing that could prevent 100% of these deaths is a policy that required officers to never leave a dog alone in a vehicle.

In closing, I read an article in September about how the community K9 Bak served united to honor him with a memorial. Such a beautiful act of compassion and love…



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”

 

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.

 

 

 

K9 Deaths; A Minor Accomplishment …

K9 Deaths; A Minor Accomplishment …

I’ve been a bit quiet lately. Partially because I’ve been working on getting my German Shepherd Sasha’s blog online
 and up to date. But I’ve also taken my passion for K9s who die unnecessarily because of handler negligence to a new level. An “I’m in your face and not going away” kind of level. Many animal activists have attempted to enlist me in their causes but emotionally I know my limitations. I’m aware of the dog trade in China, the killing of whales and the lucrative trophy hunting industry but I simply cannot look at graphic images nor participate in campaigns.
What I can do however is use my voice to  both raise public awareness and put pressure on police departments to take punitive action when a K9 officer dies because a handler left the dog in a closed squad car while he ran errands, went to the fair, or helped a friend fix a lawnmower – all in 90 F heat. Departments  have historically circled the wagons around handlers, referring to K9 deaths as “tragic accidents”. Yes its tragic but it’s definitely not an accident.  No responsible law enforcement officer “forgets” his partner, a dog so highly trained  and committed to its job they put themselves in harm’s way to protect the handler. And for the most part, K9 handlers are phenomenal in the care they give their 4 legged partners. Sadly these excellent human/dog teams are being eclipsed by the heinous cruelty of a few. Former Lt. Dan Peabody,  Cherokee County GA, left K9 Inka, 4-year-old  Belgium Malinois, in his hot patrol car where she died ~ suffering terribly in the process as death is neither swift nor kind. Peabody was so emotionally distraught he had to be treated at the hospital. Soon however the dark side emerged, the evil that embodied Dan Peabody  revealed who he really was, a serial dog killer. For not only did he allow K9 Inka to literally roast to death, but he executed his retired K9 Dale ~ a  yellow lab. When authorities excavated Peabody’s yard expecting to find K9 Dale’s remains,  they instead found a third dog who’d been shot in the back of the head. The dog, a female,  had been approximately 10 years old at the time of  death. Since the body exhumed was also a Belgium Malinois, authorities believe the dead female  may have been K9 Inka’s grandmother. Peabody by all accounts seemed “normal”. Heavily tattooed and muscular, he was the affable police lieutenant who, with K9 Inka, was assigned to the Cherokee County School District. As the evidence demonstrated, he was anything but normal. And he’s among a handful of police whose K9 partners have died as a direct result of their callous and irresponsible behaviors. I’ve previously written about K9 Totti  in PA and K9 Bak in OK.  K9 Bak was left in the hot car for over  37 hours without food, water, ventilation;  his handler never once checked on him. Instead, he smelled K9 Bak’s body on the way to work! Yet these are the same individuals we are taught to turn to for help? That their job is to protect us? I wouldn’t trust the care of a houseplant to these irresponsible officers whose negligence causes the deaths of excellent K9 officers in a most excruciating way. Just think about being locked in a hot car and fighting for every  breath until you couldn’t breathe anymore! Very heart wrenching and inexcusable!

 

inside-of-police-car-destroyed

The further I dig the more appalled, no make that outraged, I become. Not just with the police but the sick sadistic predators in society who are committing more and more hateful and egregious acts of cruelty against domestic animals. Raping a dog, sodomizing a puppy, strangling kittens with USB cords, stealing and  dismembering a family dog. Is this today’s norm? Has society really disintegrated to the point where people of all ages brutally abuse animals and think its acceptable? Or has it been going on all along but now the burgeoning of  social media brings the horror to our computers and tablets? In a recent case at Baylor University in TX,  Ishmael Zamora was given a 3 game suspension  by the football team after a video appeared online of him beating his young Rottweiler with a belt and kicking him to the point where the dog cried in pain. All because the poor Rottie had a pee accident.

At Missouri State College, yet another football player abused his neighbors dog Luca  whom he was entrusted to watch. Breck Ruddick admitted to “loosing his cool”, striking the 42# dog then allowing him to run away while bleeding. The owner put out an urgent plea on social media and a woman who found the injured and still bleeding dog quickly brought him home. Luca had been struck so hard that his jaw was shattered. Not broken ~ shattered! He required surgery, had 6 teeth removed and received numerous sutures.

In Florida a 20-year-old  UFC student severely abused his 17 week old puppy eventually causing the pups death. Luke Stribling  kicked and punched  his Shibu Inu puppy Julian, also for pee pee accidents. He was ticketed for cruelty in June yet the puppy remained with him until he finally killed him at 17 weeks old!! During the first veterinarian visit (for a broken leg) the vet said Julian had multiple fractures both old and new and that the pup literally shook from severe pain.  She asked Stribling why he didn’t seek medical care earlier for the pain Julian was in; Stribling said he didn’t know. Less than 2 weeks later Stribling  brought the dead puppy to a different vet who notified authorities. Investigators said an autopsy indicated the puppy had suffered severe internal injuries, including a hemorrhaged eye, liver and brain. An innocent puppy, a living sentient being. Tortured and killed for what? Urinating in the student’s apartment? Death at barely  4 months combined with the timeline of his injuries clearly show Julian was abused for most of his life since Stribling got the pup at 8 weeks old.

It takes a very sick and malicious person to do this to any living creature but it’s especially heinous when it’s done to a defenseless animal. Or a K9 officer. Animals look to us for guidance, love, nourishment and safety yet some humans are incapable of rendering the most basic of things.  We have to be their voice for they’re being abused, tortured and killed at an alarming rate. And many by youth who for all intent and purpose represent the leaders of tomorrow. I shudder to think how our country will thrive with evil at the helm.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As to the title and header picture for this post? It refers to Deputy Tommy Willcox of Alachua County Sheriff’s Office in Alachua County  FL. I’ve been writing and tweeting about him for what seems forever. A brief synopsis about Deputy Willcox. On July 8, 2016 Willcox put his partner K9 Robbie, a 6½-year-old Belgian Malinois, into his squad car at the end of a shift and drove home.  He left K9 Robbie in the car while he went to meet his family at another location. Yes the car was equipped with a safety monitoring system to detect heat but ONLY works if the car is running!  Safety monitoring system aside, how does one “forget” their partner of SIX YEARS? On a day so hot (98) it almost broke a previous record set in 1991? In that type of heat a dog will begin to experience distress in a matter of minutes. K9 Officer Robbie was named after Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Robert J. Miller of Oviedo, FL who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2008. K9 Robbie however was simply murdered by his partner in America after faithfully serving the department for 6 years. Wilcox had another K9, Kozar, that he adopted when the dog retired. In 2008, Wilcox said Kozar was limping and going blind so this Floridian example of toxic waste had his buddy put on a bite sleeve,  engage Kozar in bite work while Wilcox took his weapon and shot Kozar to death. Wilcox said he considered it a humane form of euthanasia and Sheriff Sadie Darnell supported his decision because Wilcox grew up on on a pig farm .  Sheriff Darnell said “Wilcox had killed more than 100 animals – mostly pigs – that same way.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Who gets off in any way, shape or form by being cruel to animals? It is one of the most baffling and sickening psychological perversions I’ve ever encountered. I believe that penalties for the mistreatment of animals must be harsher and more strictly enforced. These people don’t belong among us. Some say, “They’re only animals…” Exactly. Abuse an animal, go to jail. For a long time! And Deputy Wilcox was at the top of my list because there was and still is no way I can condone or even undestand his culpability in the death of TWO dogs. So my campaign began. I stated a media firestorm, targeting not only the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office and Alachua County but all the Florida media, the Chamber of Commerce, and Tourism Bureau. Let’s put it like this, if there was a organization I found them. I sent Tweets jointly to the Sheriff’s Office  and the County asking how long before Wilcox killed the next K9? I actually scheduled my tweets to ensure I didn’t forget. Finally on Oct  3, three months after K9 Robbie’s death, Deputy Wilcox was suspended for 6 days without pay and removed from the K-9 unit where he had been the lead trainer. While it won’t bring Robbie back nor give Kozar the end of life treatment he deserved,  it’s a small step forward ~ I’ll take it.

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.