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