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:

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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.

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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.

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Former Cop And Serial Dog Killer Dan Peabody ~ Manipulative As Ever…

Former Cop And Serial Dog Killer Dan Peabody ~ Manipulative As Ever…

Disgraced and repugnant former Lieutenant and Operations Commander for the Cherokee County GA  School Police Department is at it again.

I last wrote about this depraved person in my post of October 14, 2016 entitled

Daniel Peabody ~ Georgia Cop And Serial Dog Killer

He stands accused of the murder of three (3) dogs; K9 Inka, a Belgiun Malinois, by leaving her in a hot car, retired K9 Dale whom Peabody asked to keep upon Dale’s retirement at the early age of six (6) because he was “very attached” to him. So attached that shortly after Dale retired Peabody executed the  Golden Labrador with a bullet to the back of his head. He’s admitted to the killing but has not disclosed the location of Dale’s body. When police excavated the lawn of Peabody’s former home expecting to find Dale’s remains, instead they discovered a third unknown dog; an older female Belgian Malinois they suspect might have been K9 Inka’s grandmother. Her death was also from a bullet to the back of the head. Despite admitting guilt at the time, Peabody pled “Not Guilty” on October 12, 2016.

That’s because Peabody thinks he’s the injured party. Most do. Psychopaths appear to view the world and others instrumentally, as theirs for the taking. They’re typically profoundly selfish and lack emotion  Peabody considers himself invincible. As did Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy,  Zodiac Killer ~ the list goes on. They all had  specific proclivities; women, men, children, farm animals and with Peabody ~ working dogs.

This was evident in testimony he gave on December 1, 2016 when his attorneys filed a motion to  quash the  indictment against him. 🎥 (his arrogance is evident in his testimony)

Let’s hope the judge reviewing this motion sees it for what it really is and denies the defense’s request. Because despite what Peabody stated while on the stand, HE left K9 Inka to die a slow and agonizing  death in a chamber of oppressive heat. Not to mention the other dogs he killed by shooting them in the back of the head.  Will be interesting to see what scheme he comes up with to explain their executions. Wonder if, like K9 Inka, he’ll claim he was on duty…

I’ve opted not to show a picture of the crate K9 Inka was trapped in but if you look at this photo, you can see it in the rear of the car.

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Goodbye Sweet Girl…

💔💔💔 I am SO sorry that your handler is a murdering piece of waste.💔💔💔

Death of K9 Lina ~ The Aftermath Part 2

Death of K9 Lina ~ The Aftermath Part 2

On September 23, 2016, Matt Durrett, 4th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney of Washington County announced Deputy Jonathan Cornelison was not criminally negligent in the September 9th hot car death of K9 Lina because there was insufficient evidence to prove that he intended to hurt the 2-year-old K9. After the decision was announced Madison County Sheriff  Phillip Morgan declined to comment stating he hadn’t been able to thoroughly review the prosecutorial decision. On September 26, Sheriff Morgan announced the disciplinary action Deputy Cornelison would be subject to:

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.

Sheriff Morgan also announced that the department would install heat sensors in the K9 vehicles.

Nice, tidy ending for the tragic and unnecessary death of a young, vital Belgian Malinois named Lina. Yes, there is a difference between intention and negligence. Law enforcement officers understand that very well whether they choose to admit it or not. While I’m sure Deputy Cornelian didn’t get off duty that morning and decide “Today I’m going to kill my partner by leaving her unattended in the patrol car with the windows closed”, he was nonetheless clearly negligent and therefore responsible for her death.  In October 2015 Russ Hess, a retired handler and executive director of the United States Police K9 Association,  told reporters that “Police officers need to be held to a higher standard to protect their canine partners”. Both veteran handlers and animal advocates say such deaths are preventable and illustrate acts of negligence or over-reliance on technology to protect the dogs.  In this October 2015 interview, Scott Heiser, Director of the Criminal Justice Program for the California-based Animal Legal Defense Fund said: “To our way of looking at things, an officer who allows a dog to die of heat exhaustion on duty is as neglectful as leaving a service revolver on a school playground.”

I agree wholeheartedly. Heat sensor systems such as Hot-N-Pop should be mandatory in all K9 vehicles.category1

Project Paws Alive, a nationwide 501(c) non-profit organization has created a nationwide K9 Heat Alarm Fund to provide law enforcement K9 Units with K9 heat alarm systems for agencies that cannot afford to purchase the equipment for their K9 vehicles. For those of you not aware of this truly wonderful organization, they operate completely on donations and sponsored support. Their mission? To provide lifesaving safety equipment to all working dogs. Please visit their website or find them on all social media venues.

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K9 Lina

Having said this, I still hold Deputy Cornelian 200% responsible for the death of K9 Lina.

Even if his vehicle had been equipped with a heat sensor unit, the system is not meant to be a long-term solution for your K9 partner while you help a friend fix a lawnmower, talk on the phone, pay a bill, stop in the station, run errands or confer with another agency on a police matter. I don’t care how busy you are, your dog depends on you, and  Deputy Cornelian failed her. Failed at keeping a beautiful dog alive and failed the taxpayers of the Madison County.

A handler still has to check on his partner even if the vehicle has a heat sensor system. You cannot solely rely on the equipment to protect your partner on a hot day while you run errands etc for hours.For the sake of argument let’s say Cornelian’s Crown Victoria was equipped with a heat sensor. Did it have the ability to pop a door lock? If so, was K9 Lina free in the vehicle or confined behind a barrier?

When he exited his vehicle after work that morning, why did he not automatically take K9 Lina out as well? Place her in the kennel behind the barn on his property where she lived?

When you train and handle a dog, they become just as close to you as any human partner. You cover each other. The handler depends on the dog to do the job they’ve been trained for and the dog depends on the handler to provide the basic necessities of life; food, water, cool air, and a place to sleep at the end of a long shift. But maybe I judge too harshly. Poor lad was “overworked” and suffered from “lack of sleep“. Perhaps people in Arkansas have a different genetic code than the rest of us mere mortals because, despite these obstacles aka excuses, instead of going to sleep after taking his children to daycare, Deputy Jonathan Cornelison made a series of choices. He chose to help repair a lawnmower at a friend’s house, chose to pay his water bill, chose to talk to his father on the telephone, chose to go to the bank, chose to go to the jail to meet with a probation officer and prosecutor, chose to go to the sheriff’s office, chose to go to an auto parts store, chose to meet with a Huntsville police officer regarding a DWI case and chose to have that discussion at JamDot Chillspot Spot Sports Bar & Grill in Huntsville.

At least we know Deputy Cornelian and the Huntsville officer stayed cool during their meeting because according to their Facebook page,JamDot Chill Spot is a restaurant/Sports Bar in Huntsville, AR where you can chill with friends and enjoy a nice meal and adult beverage. We have 10 TVs!!” Very nice considering the temperature at midday was 91 degrees F.

Meanwhile back at Cornelian’s home, I wonder how hot it was in the Crown Vic where K9 Lina was literally trapped?

Actually, I could tell you and be relatively close. I could also tell you the physiological effect extreme heat has on a dog’s body. I researched the subject in-depth following another hot car death of a K9 earlier in 2016. I also included this hot car temperature called Heat Kills in K9 Lina Part 1. It is excellent and easy to understand plus it includes videos which demonstrate how quickly the interior of a car becomes a death trap.

As sad as I was I felt there wasn’t much I could do about K9 Lina’s death.  I started to file away the URLs, photos, and notes I’d gathered on her. Then I saw it; staring back at me.

It was the first local newspaper report written approximately 1.5 hours after Deputy Cornelison discovered Lina’s body. I remember when I initially read it I had a feeling it would disappear so I quickly took a screenshot plus saved the page as a web page archive.

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Do you see what it was in the second paragraph that caught my eye? 

I’m glad I saved it because it did indeed “go away” but in its place came a social media firestorm; not for the deceased Lina but rather, the “poor kid”. I even discovered a relationship of sorts between Cornelison and the family of another disgraced handler. There was no pity for Lina ~ only blame-shifting by the masses. As I was preparing to begin writing this (never dreaming it would become so convoluted) I looked at the MCSO website to see how they had memorialized K9 Lina. As you can see, on November 18, 2016, she was still listed as being part of the MCSO K9 Unit.

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To complete the story of K9 Lina’s tragic and preventable death, I’m going to have to write another post;  K9 Lina ~ The Blame Game Part 3.

Insomnia Over a K9 Death…

Insomnia Over a K9 Death…

I’m having an extremely difficult time sleeping ~ all because of something I discovered regarding K9 Bak, the deceased officer from Stephen’s County Sheriff’s Dept. in Duncan OK. On November 4, 2016,  I wrote a lengthy post on the horrific way this loyal six  year veteran died called The Tragedy of K9 Bak… which went into great detail about the circumstances of his death, or in his case, murder.

But my insomnia isn’t from thinking about how K9 Bak died but rather, the events surrounding the memorial service the community organized  as a way of honoring his life, something  I closed my original post with. Last night a few details came to light.

Since the Stephen’s County Sheriff’s Department had not made any type of memorial arrangements yet, a member of the community took the initiative and began making plans for a community memorial. It was to be held on the East Side of the Stephen’s County Courthouse (the Sheriff’s Department is located within the same building). The reason for this is there is a monument on the East Side that is a tribute to fallen officers. It was scheduled for 10 am on September 6.

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Stephen’s County Courthouse

Sheriff Wayne McKinney told the Duncan Banner why his department would not be doing a memorial for K9 Bak at this time. Since the Duncan Banner only allows a few views before locking one out until you subscribe, I copied their article to a document with a sharable link.

Community hosting memorial for K9 Bak

On August 31, one of the organizers announced that the  memorial service had to be relocated from the courthouse to the local park which is one half mile away. The reason? “Changed location to Duncan Park. Sheriff up for reelection so can’t be honoring this officer at the courthouse. Hmmmm”. I checked the election results only to find that Sheriff McKinney did win however the election was June 28. My turn to say “Hmmmm”. For whatever reason the organizers had to move the location.

K9 Bak’s EOW was August 5, 2016. His former handler, Matthew Peck,  was terminated immediately. Some details of K9 Bak’s death and Sheriff Wayne McKinney’s response are in this video report from NBC4i from August 27.

On August 29, Peck was charged with one (1) count of felony animal cruelty.

On September 6 as promised community members had a small but lovely memorial for K9 Bak that brought tears to my eyes. I didn’t see a uniform presence in any of the photos and one of the attendees said “It would have been nice to have some police support”. Perhaps they were in street clothes?

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Bless this comminity!

In closing, sadly this is not a video of K9 Bak however  I wish he had been remenbered by his “family” like this. Perhaps they will ….someday. After all, he was a loyal BlueDog.

Made An Unusual Discovery…

Made An Unusual Discovery…

As anyone who reads my blog knows, I am passionate about K9 deaths due to handler negligence, especially hot car deaths. To digress a bit, I fact check everything several times using different sources because I’ve come to find that mainstream media is often rife with errors. For example with a recent K9 death there were four different ages given for the dog and worse, some media referred to the K9 as male while others wrote female. The K9 (who was killed in the line of duty) was a male.

I was doing research and fact checking data on a K9 who was part of a department in one of our southern states. Because of handler neglect the dog was forgotten for over five hours in a locked patrol car that didn’t  have heat sensors. This occurred during the middle of the day when the heat is highest plus in the south states it’s always hotter  and more humid than their northern counterparts. Sadly the K9 died.   During the course of reading I stumbled upon something that almost made me vault from the chair in shock. Another K9 died in a hot car death due to egregious negligence earlier in 2015. This happened in a southern state as well but a different one. When I checked the distance, there is over 300 miles between the two locations; it wasn’t as if the two departments were even remotely close to one another. I don’t know about you but with the exception of relatives and old acquaintances I don’t arbitrarily know people who live 300 miles away. Yet I found a connection between these two handlers and it was a somewhat new connection; they weren’t old social media friends. I even checked as far back as I could on the youngest handler but he had never lived nor worked in the other state. I should mention that I discovered the connection on a social media site and the individuals involved were rather cryptic in their comments which is to be expected. However finding a connection of any type seemed odd and out-of-place. That I began to wonder; do these disgraced law enforcement officers purposely reach out to each other? I know that officers who have lost a K9 in the line of duty or due to sickness or age after retirement are often comforted by other handlers who have lost their  K9 partner in a similar way. That seems appropriate and normal. But for two officers whose negligence alone was the cause of death in  otherwise healthy K9s  to be corresponding (one handler has been charged with a felony and fired by his department) ~ now that seems very strange.

So I’m on a mission. Yes America is a free country and the First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech however something isn’t right here. Is there a secret group reserved just for police officers whose carelessness and negligence are the direct cause of their K9 partners life?

If there is a great physical distance between two small town police departments, how did they suddenly begin communicating after the death of their dogs? It almost smacks of collusion and I definitely don’t like it.

When a handler loses their K9 partner they are usually devastated. On June 24, 2016, retired Clearwater, Florida K9 Officer Major  was laid to rest due to medical issues. He served the Clearwater Police Department and the city of Clearwater for six years before being retired in 2014. Below is a touching tribute written by his partner, Sgt. Michael Spitaleri:

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Saying GoodBye To Major

To my faithful partner,

Today has been the most difficult day of my career. I made the decision to end your pain and suffering, however I’m hurting far more than I anticipated. I already miss you, buddy.

I remember picking you up from the airport right before we began K-9 school together. My first impression wasn’t accurate. I thought you were small and you appeared to be a bit timid at first glance. I honestly didn’t know if you had what it took to be a police dog. Nonetheless, we started K-9 school together in November of 2008. I quickly learned my initial assessment was wrong. You proved yourself to me time and time again. Your willingness to please me, your loyalty, and your fearlessness was very apparent as we progressed and graduated K-9 school in March 2009.

As a team, we had immediate success on the road. During our first week together that March, you successfully tracked and located a man who threatened his wife with a knife. Our skills and ability got better day in and day out from that point. Throughout the years, we located dozens of criminals, illegal narcotics, firearms, and other items of evidentiary value. These arrests and finds wouldn’t have been possible without you. You made me look like a superstar at times; truth be told, I was nothing more than the guy who held your leash.

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Your reputation with our coworkers was highly respected. I always laughed when we would train with the SWAT team. During those training sessions we were around some of the toughest men I have ever had the privilege of working alongside. When I would get you out of the car I would watch as these tough men would find the nearest corner of the room in an attempt to be as far away from you as possible, because they thought you were “crazy.” You weren’t crazy; you were my protector. You were their protector. You knew no limits and you would stop at nothing to make sure we made it home safely to our families. You took your job seriously.

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I’ll never forget when I would try and key the radio to talk. It never failed; as soon as I got our call sign out “K4” to the dispatcher you would begin barking so loud they couldn’t hear a thing I was trying to say. I would get messages and/or requests from the dispatchers to repeat my transmissions. They knew I couldn’t stand it when you “talked” over me; however it was something you never grew out of. We still laugh about it to this day.

When you retired in 2014 due to medical conditions, the adjustment to being a normal dog was difficult for you. You would watch me get ready and run to the door in anticipation of going to work. I know you didn’t understand the reasons I retired you, however I did it because I loved you, buddy. I wanted to make sure your medical conditions didn’t get worse. I wanted you to live a good quality life during your retirement. You deserved that and I stand by my decision. Just like you looked out for me every single shift, it was my turn to look out for you and protect you.

Although I know you didn’t enjoy retirement like humans do, I’m proud to say you adjusted as much as you could. You became my wife’s dog. You became my children’s dog. You made sure they were protected when Daddy went to work with his new dog, Echo. You would lay by my kids’ door at night while they slept, almost as if to say “I got them, Daddy, you go to work, and they’ll be fine”. I felt at peace knowing you were home keeping them safe. Thank you for protecting them like you protected me for all of those years.

I could go on and on about you. You made me the K-9 handler that I am today. You never met a challenge that you didn’t rise to the occasion. You were a great partner and I am forever thankful for you.

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Major, I love you and I will always remember our time together. Please go find the nearest police officer when you get to heaven and tell them you are a police dog and you are reporting for duty.

Until I see you again………….

Love,

Dad

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.