K-9 Endy ~ Left In A Hot Patrol Truck Nearly 12 Hours…

K-9 Endy ~ Left In A Hot Patrol Truck Nearly 12 Hours…

K-9 Endy suffered an excruciatingly painful death because his handler left him in the patrol truck, parked in full sun, while the handler participated in July 4th activities for nearly 12 hours.

Please take a moment to reflect on K-9 Endy, an 8 yr old officer with the Cache County Sheriff’s Office in Logan Utah. K-9 Endy, a Belgian Malinois, died on July 3, 2017, when his handler, Deputy Jason Whittier, left  K-9 Officer Endy in the patrol truck after he arrived home from his shift at 12 pm. He parked the truck in an area with direct sunlight and exited the vehicle. Deputy Whittier then left his home and participated in family July 4th activities for the day. When he returned from the festivities at 11:30 pm, nearly 12 hours later, he realized that K-9 Endy was not in his kennel. Upon checking the truck Deputy Whittier discovered his partner deceased. The cause of death was heat exhaustion. The temperature on July 3 was 95 degrees. Deputy Whittier was reassigned and placed on unpaid administrative leave pending an investigation. On July 19 Whittier was charged with a Class B misdemeanor aggravated cruelty to an animal and scheduled for a court appearance on August 28. The community was extremely upset that Deputy Whittier’s  suspension placed such a burden on him; no income yet bills and a family to provide for so they established a fundraising page to help him in his hour of need. They empathized with Deputy Whittier’s terrible plight and many wrote that he was a kind and noble man who simply made an honest mistake; an innocent mistake that could happen to anyone. Many posted comments under media articles sympathizing because he was understandably distracted by the July 4th festivities and being away from his home for nearly 12 hours. I’ve included the link to his fundraiser even though it ended August 22. Life is not always fair and hopefully, goodness and mercy will prevail for Deputy Whittier.

Screen Shot 2017-10-12 at 3.10.31 AM

The above of course is sarcasm. Police K9s are not “just dogs“, they are a vital part of a crime-fighting team whose work should be celebrated alongside their human handlers. K9s are the unsung heroes of any police department plus extremely loyal companions. Most importantly, they are the human officer’s partner. How can a man who took an oath to protect and serve fail to keep his partner, a sentient being, safe? 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 K9 partner? Because he forgot? The first rule in law enforcement ~ never abandon your partner! Whittier wasn’t on a 3-hour foot pursuit; he was enjoying family activities away from home on a holiday weekend. He disgraced the badge and failed the people of Cache County Utah. Most of all, he failed his partner K-9 Endy by leaving him to die in oppressive heat inside a vehicle, parked in direct sunlight, in 95-degree weather, for nearly 12 hours.

HKheatrise2

K-9 Endy was Cache County Sheriff Department’s first K9 officer. He joined the department in September 2016 at age 7. Born in September 2008, K-9 Endy had been in law enforcement since April 2010 when he joined the Logan Police Department where he participated in more than 200 assignments ranging from drug and suspect searches to public demonstrations.  A Belgium Shepherd, his commands were in Dutch and his former Logan handler Eric Johnson said how much his children loved speaking Dutch to him. K-9 Endy had two handlers while with Logan PD. His second one, Logan police officer and K-9 handler Eric Johnson was involved in a serious motorcycle accident in September 2015 with a lengthy recovery time. Because Endy was a working dog, he needed a job to do and was subsequently sold to Cache County Sheriff’s Department where he was paired with Deputy Whittier. The Herald Journal did a feature on the new 4 legged officer in April 2016 in which Deputy Whittier described the one month bonding period he and the canine spent: “It was during this time that the pair truly transitioned from being merely a master and a dog to being buddies, he said.”

K-9 Endy continued to participate in school demonstrations which I think you’ll agree, he appeared to relish.

The Northern Utah Critical Incident Task Force, under the auspices of the Cache County Attorney’s Office, investigated K-9 Endy’s death.

Originally suspended by the Cache County Sheriff’s Department pending an investigation, Deputy Whittier was terminated by the department on August 18. He appeared in the First District Court in Logan on October 2 where he pleaded no contest to one count of aggravated cruelty to an animal, a class B misdemeanor. The probable cause statement says Whittier returned home from his shift around noon and parked his patrol vehicle outside his Cache County home, leaving K-9 Endy inside. Whittier returned home around 11:30 p.m. and realizing Endy was not in his outside kennel, discovered the dog dead inside his patrol vehicle. Experts at the Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Lab analyzed K-9 Endy’s remains and their findings “suggest fatal heat stroke as the cause of death,” according to the affidavit.

Whittier’s sentencing is scheduled for November 13 where he could face a sentence of up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. I find it interesting that this media and video reports that Whittier pleaded guilty. Without going into great detail, there’s a difference between the two pleas.

A memorial service for K-9 Endy, which was open to the public, was held Wednesday, August 2 in front of the Cache County Sheriff’s Office. It was a beautiful service and many people paid tribute to this remarkable dog. There’s a video in this article that shows how much the community, his former department, and handlers along with the Cache County Sheriff’s Department, respected and honored him.  The entire service was paid for by a private donor who wished to remain anonymous. Such a touching and kind gesture to close a tragically dark time.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After reading and researching K-9 Endy’s death, I must admit that I admire Cache County Sheriff Chad Jenson. Unlike many departments, he never attempted to circle the wagons around the handler but rather, he launched a proper investigation, followed by naming the deputy and announcing his suspension. He explained that the K9 vehicle had a temperature safety unit but like most systems, only worked if the vehicle was running. He added that the systems were being upgraded to the type that alerts the handler. 

But it was these words by the sheriff that gave me a glimmer of hope that departments across America are finally realizing that these magnificent K9s are team members and not a disposable commodity:

“I say to all of you and I say to Endy: that your life was not lost in vain,” he said. “As I pledge to you Endy: We will be better. We will do better.

If only I was assigned to investigate a K9’s hot car death because my Fact-Finding Investigation would be as follows:

Fact – You were issued a K9 to train and work with.

Fact – You carelessly allowed the K9 to die in your issued vehicle.

Fact – You’re fired!

Fact – I’m recommending you be charged with injuring a police service animal, a third-degree felony in Utah punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

If I could ask former Deputy Whittier one question, it would be if his daylong festivities was worth his partner’s life?

K-9 Endy
EOW July 3, 2017
Cache County Sheriff’s Department
Logan UT
He has gone home to rest for the final time
Officer Kilo Endy is 10-42 … Good Boy Endy

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.

 

 

Endy's Tennis Ball
K-9 Endy’s Tennis Ball

 

 

 

 

 

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.”

AR-160519398

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.

IMG_4854

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.

hot-car-dangers

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.

Screen Shot 2017-08-28 at 7.30.28 PM

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

Screen Shot 2017-08-28 at 7.31.48 PM 11.56.01 PM

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.

CF 1600387 1

img_9375

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

 

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

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

k9-cain-800X600

 

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.

20728987_720303444828048_5032182927795880757_o
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

k9-lex-feauyre

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.

114646062

 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

                                                                           💙🖤 

 

 

 

 

K9 Lina ~ Even In Death Denied Justice Part 4…

K9 Lina ~ Even In Death Denied Justice Part 4…

I was going to end the tragic story of K9 Lina’s death with my previous post, however, I inevitably knew that one more egregious injustice needed to be told. It has frustrated me for over two months yet I am helpless.

On September 27, 2016, a woman from NJ wrote and launched a ForceChange petition asking for:

Justice For Dog Locked Inside Hot Car Until She Died
Posted by Lindsay Savitzky

The dog Ms. Savitzky sought justice for was K9 Lina. However, this is the photograph she used at the head of her petition:

img_9601She also targeted the wrong agency as the petition was to the attention of  Director William J. Bryant of the Arkansas State Police but in another area of the petition letter, she refers to K9 Lina’s handler as a deputy with Madison County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO).

I looked at Ms. Savitzky’s profile on the ForceChange petition and she describes herself as:

I’m a woman in her 30s who lives in New Jersey and cares deeply for the welfare of people and animals. I volunteer at RBARI once a week, cleaning the kennel and socializing with cats looking for homes.

RBARI is Ramapo Bergen Animal Refuge in Oakland NJ (Bergen County) which indicated  Ms. Savitzky lives in the general area of my hometown. Since there was no way of contacting her, I sent an email to ForceChange describing the errors. A week passed without a response so I wrote again. I began noticing comments by people directly on the petition’s front page also outlining the errors but the petition remained the same for a month. I posted towards the end of October as did several law enforcement officers. Some even gave links to K9 Lina’s photo. She was a Belgian Malinois in an MCSO vehicle, not a springer spaniel in a red sports car. Meanwhile, time and energy that could have been focused on Lina were being spent trying to have an incorrect hence invalid petition corrected. Digressing a moment, this is not the first time I have encountered gross inaccuracies in a ForceChange petition. In October they published a petition about a man who sexually assaulted a dog, written by a woman whose bio said she is a copy editor. Unfortunately, the petition targeted an agency in a completely different state than which the offense occurred and the suspect lived. After two emails ForceChange corrected it.

K9 Lina’s petition, however, was not being corrected nor the writer or ForceChange responding to emails or comments left on the page. On October 30, 2016, I sent yet another email to ForceChange:

This petition is all wrong! I REALLY wish petition writers would fact check before putting something like this out. This is HORRIBLE! Do you even know what a Belgiun Malinois looks like? Are you afraid to say the handlers name? Because good handlers aren’t – his name is Deputy Jonathon Cornelison of the Madison County Sheriff’s Dept in Huntsville Arkansas. He works under Sheriff Philip Morgan. Need more information? On Sept. 9, 2016 he left his PARTNER, K9 Lina in HIS squad car parked in HIS driveway for over 6 hrs. During that time he took his children to daycare, helped a friend fix a lawnmower – here read it for yourself! It was 91 F outside BTW.

http://www.4029tv.com/article/madison-co-announces-discipline-for-k9-handler-after-dog-s-death/5265623

And since you obviously don’t know what a Belgian Malinois looks like or bothered to Google K9 Lina, here is her picture!

http://www.arkansasmatters.com/news/local-news/prosecutor-not-filing-charges-against-deputy-for-k9-death

On November 1, 2016, the petition was changed. It was now targeted to Madison County Sheriff Phillip Morgan and the spaniel in a red car had been replaced with one of a K9 ~ just the wrong one! The picture was of a GSD whereas K9 Lina was a Belgian Malinois.

img_9858

This dog is K9 Conan, who until his retirement and subsequent death in 2015, was a bomb-sniffing dog with the Outagamie County Sheriff’s Dept in Appleton Wisconsin. Even if Linda Savitzky and/or ForceChange doesn’t know the difference between the two breeds, all it takes is to look at the K9’s shield to see it clearly doesn’t say Madison County Sheriff’s Department. Plus if you zoom in just a tad you can read ‘K-9 Outagamie County Sheriff’s Dept.’ When K9 Conan died in 2015, Outagamie County Sheriff’s Dept released a private video of Conan singing along to Toby Keith. 🎤⬅︎

By this point, I’m not even going to pretend I was nice. To put a picture of a deceased K9 from a department over 700 miles away is a not only a disgrace but disrespectful to both of these brave dogs. To be honest I was more upset over K9 Lina because it was obvious from my brief research that K9 Conan was valued and loved whereas K9 Lina was left in a hot car for over 6 hours in 90 degree weather where she died a slow and agonizing death while her handler cavorted around town helping a friend fix a lawnmower, paying bills, stopping in an auto parts store, going to the sheriff’s department and meeting an officer from another department at a sports bar ~ all on his time off.

I talked to other officers and they were just as surprised and disgusted as I was yet to this day none of our emails have been answered and the petition remains online and incorrect.  I wrote ForceChange yet again:

I’ve previously written you about the inaccuracies in this petition which commenters are pointing out as well yet you fail to respond.  I found it necessary  to email you last week because a petition written by a woman (who states she’s a copy editor) was directed to officials in the WRONG  state. I’ve noticed this is a trend with many petitions on your site which makes me leery of signing or promoting any of them.  It is not my job to edit every petition launched by ForceChange to ensure it’s accuracy. The petition I referenced does a disservice to both police K9s because the writer doesn’t have the facts correct and because ForceChange has neglected to address it when notified. Responsible K9 handlers are as appalled as I am. Wrong dog, wrong target.  In closing,  kindly remove my name from any of your mailing lists and for your edification I’m attaching the corrected photos.

image-1

this-is-lina

Next, I scrolled through Savitsky’s numerous petitions, found a site that she frequents and posted an open comment:

While I applaud your dedication and the work you do on behalf of animals, you wrote a ForceChange petition seeking justice for K9 Lina’s hot car death in AR. It was pointed out to ForceChange over a month ago that the wrong agency was targeted and that the springer spaniel in the red sports car was NOT Lina. Commenters including LEOs left links to K9 Lina’s picture. Emails were sent to ForceChange and finally the petition was edited. It is now worse than ever! I’m not going into all the errors here but read the comments on the petition YOU wrote. To top it off the dog’s photo you now have on the petition is a K9 but NOT Lina. It is K9 Conan, a bomb sniffing dog from WI who died in 2015. His badge on the picture clearly reads Outagamie County Sheriff’s Depart. K9 yet the petition insinuates it is K9 Lina. They weren’t  even the same breed! K9 Conan was a GSD; K9 Lina was a Belgian Malinois.  First the petition targeted the State Police who had NO jurisdiction since the handler is a Madison County deputy. Now it targets the sheriff who can’t charge the deputy since the Prosecutor (who is over the sheriff) decided no charges. Law enforcement is in an uproar over this Linda. Do you dislike them that much that you and ForceChange will allow an invalid petition to stay online uncorrected? Because if you do shame on you. You are no better than the deputy who left Lina to roast to death in a hot car for 6 hours!

Once again, no response so we give up. This grossly inaccurate petition just compounds the tragedy of K9 Lina’s death. The day after she was left in a hot car for hours by her handler, Sheriff Phillip Morgan blamed her death on the deputy’s  50 hour work week and lack of sleep. Sheriff  Morgan described the dog’s death as a “bad accident.  Matt Durrett, 4th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney declined to press charges against her handler, Deputy Jonathon Cornelison. The day following her death a Facebook support page was set up ~ for Jonathon Cornelison where very little is posted about the loss of this K9 officer. A memorial wasn’t held for K9 Lina until November 12.

It’s as if she never existed.The entire area seems to have an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ attitude. Making the situation sadder, she only served with MCSO for one year.

As for petition writers, to be blunt, if you don’t know the FACTS, stop writing garbage like this as it denigrates the seriousness of a K9’s death because of a handler’s negligence and in turn, that incompetent handler tarnishes the badges of thousands of excellent handlers who would take a bullet for their dog.

“A K9 officer is a universal dog that can detect, track, guard, and apprehend. A K9 dog is a separate officer that serves his duty just like any human officer.
Any offense against the dog makes you subject to prosecution and you may end up being incarcerated.”

Apparently, this does not apply to Arkansas.

I keep hoping for the day I don’t have to post this.

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-lina-ar

Lina, I care…

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 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 for $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 9 am 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.