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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

I Am Beyond Blessed

I Am Beyond Blessed

This is definitely my shortest post ever. I want to shout from the rooftop although in the Western Mountains of Maine there are only trees.

I HAVE WON! My four-year battle with a Whistleblower case is over! I honestly think the ultra prestigious law firm that represented the nursing facility was testing me because they were adamant about taking it to trial. We had jury selection the end of last week. The corporate climbing female lawyer told me how she was looking forward to having me on the witness stand. My response?  “No dear. Actually the pleasure will be all mine”. I bluff quite well I’ve discovered because I was actually quaking in my Danskos. The most important component is I refused to sign a confidentiality agreement. Non-negotiable. To agree to keep quiet was never a bargaining chip on the table. Because by doing so, what would that say about my ethical obligation to a patient? The very situation that started this legal battle?  That I cared more about money than morals and respect. That was how I viewed it.

So even though technically I’ve won, I feel more as if a victory albeit it small has been achieved for patients who for whatever reason, don’t realize they have the right to speak up, speak out and be treated with respect. My only regret is that my dear friend is no longer here to share this with; he too lost his job merely because he was at the top of the pay scale. His 22 year old replacement was paid half the weekly salary. How sad…

“…Because Faith is merely the road that leads us to the Greater Love…”

 

I Sat in Your Chair Today

I Sat in Your Chair Today

Technically it’s mine but you always chose it when we went to the river.

Seven weeks ago you stood on your lawn with police and rescue personnel present, and in the shadow of the setting sun, put a gun to your head and pulled the trigger. The last words you said were more in the form of a question. “What? I can’t hear you”.

When I learned of your death my universe was suddenly a very vast place and I was extremely alone. I guess I was selfish because I always counted on you being there. You were my sounding board, my go to person. I knew you suffered from depression and had made a suicide attempt many years ago. I knew because of the unwarranted termination of your job of 20 years, you were without healthcare coverage thus you weren’t able to continue either your therapy sessions or afford the antidepressant you’d taken for years. I wish I could have helped you! I begged you to use your VA benefits, apply for assistance through the local healthcare system, visit a labor lawyer – but you refused. I couldn’t understand why but finally stopped harping. Was I wrong? Should I have kept after you? What could I have done differently my dearest friend? I was always there for you but it was difficult to reach you because of your damn unreliable ISP and finicky computer. You never knew that I was planning on buying you a laptop. I tried to talk you into a cell phone off my plan but as usual you declined using the idiotic excuse “I don’t like all the noises cell phones make”. You and your damn independent streak. Looking at my words I realized that I’ve just described myself. It’s amazing we melded so well despite our arguments, like a married couple. Hence I introduced you as husband #2. I smile as I recall the expression on your face the first time I introduced my “two husbands” to the very Catholic women at the Parish Hall. They took my humor rather well I thought.
You had that quirky little smile when I said or did something outrageous or just plain dumb. Like getting stuck in your snowy driveway not once but twice the same day. Hell within the same hour. I miss that smile. I miss your wit and listening to your antigovernment theories while desperately trying to keep a straight face. I miss your hesitation when I hugged you goodbye. You lived such a solitary life that you had difficulty with human touch.
My four years of hell have reached an apex. The past few weeks have been an emotional roller coaster unlike anything I’ve ever experienced since those horrific childhood years. Every morning I wake up and within five minutes I’m a wreck because I realize I’m one day closer to being in a courtroom. The mere thought of it terrifies me, a residual effect of standing alone in front of a judge when I was just a child. Of being sentenced to a reform school for being incorrigible at an age when little girls still play with dolls. No – I’m not going there today. I refuse. I’m trying to think of the courtroom as just another room in a big building. Like a large room in a museum or a restaurant except with a different decor and theme. I tell myself that at the end of the day I’m free to walk out of the courtroom just as I would any other large room or venue. I’m trying to reprogram my mind. As frightening as it is to enter a court room, I have to tell myself it’s not, it’s a piece of cake, I can do it, it’s only a room, and I’m in rooms all the time, every day of my life. At my house, at the store, it’s just a room with walls and strangers in it, no different from any building I go to each week – post office, bank, grocery store, it’s just another building and I’ll be in a room like any other store I frequent, but at a different address and without shopping privileges! Somehow it’s not working for me though; my innate terror is simply too great. So I’ve vacillated whether I should settle out of court. It’s easier on so many levels. No emotional “courtroom” appearance, no testimony, not having my character and very essence attacked by a bitch desperately to rise in the law firm. I’ve met her type so many times before – driven and ambitious. Society often thinks it’s only men that ruthlessly climb the corporate ladder. They’ve obviously never met a woman who’s determined to move up the company food chain. They epitomize the word cutthroat . Settling would resolve nearly all my angst. A nice tidy business arrangement. I’d sign a confidentiality agreement and they’d give me a check. However therein lies my problem. This whole fiasco has never been about money. It’s never been about revenge. It was about the right to patient privacy, something they’re entitled to plus guaranteed under HIPAA. It’s about an employer who, instead of rectifying a problem, chose to retaliate against a nurse who was only doing her job. I’m not naive. I know many people enter the field at a young age because of the money, the ability to work the hours or amount of days they want, and the fact that no matter where they move they can usually find a job. Then there’s the people like me who are in a completely different profession but because of a life experience or circumstance find their calling is nursing. We go back to school (again) and armed with our degree jump headfirst into our new career. Of course it’s a nice paycheck but for me the greatest satisfaction was helping my patients. A nurse doesn’t just address physical needs such as wound care or pain relief. We are duty bound to protect their rights. Patients have a right to privacy which means you cannot discuss them by name when you’re off duty. It also means that if you see their privacy being violated you are obligated to address it.

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Yet here I am, four years later ~ drained of our savings, penalized and taxed for cashing in pensions, and dreading the day I have to appear in court. All because I reported a facility that failed to address the problem I reported several times.
Having said that, I’ve rejected a settlement offer. I know it’s crazy and I’m a glutton for punishment but I keep thinking about you. About the day that young woman fired you in front of everyone. I think about my termination and what it’s cost me. I think about all the other people who are unfairly terminated by an employer just because they’d been there so long that they are at the top of the pay scale. Or terminated because they called attention to safety violations. Or maybe because the manager simply didn’t like them. If you aren’t protected by a union your job is fair game.
Employers have to be made to realize that their employees are real people. With a life outside of work, perhaps a family or a dependent parent. They have bills to pay, obligations to meet. If they’re fired through no fault of their own they struggle financially and emotionally. And that’s where my problem is. I’m not naive in that I know I can’t change the world but by going to trial, speaking out, I can change one employer and that’s good enough for me. If I quietly accept a check and sign a confidentiality agreement, the employer is in essence buying my silence. They are free to continue caring more about insurance reimbursement than patient rights. What will the past four years of struggle have been about if I allow myself to be bought? As much as I fear the courtroom, I could not live with myself if I compromise my ethics. And in a small way, I’ve decided to see this through for you as well. While not the same company, a victory will give me a certain amount of satisfaction.
You’re still with me in so many ways just as I know you’ll be with me in court. That’s good enough for me. Let’s kick some ass…

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My friend loved his cats!

A brand new key ~ or not?

A brand new key ~ or not?

 

Had my initial session with the new therapist today and she’s very nice but ………………………………………It’s so damn hard to start over. It took nearly 10 years for me to develop enough trust in my previous therapist to bring up my childhood. Starting anew was more intimidating and stressful than I had envisioned. Plus when she asked me what brought me there today, I really had no clue what to say. Anxiety of course but over which thing? My trial in less than one month? Jury selection next week? The almost four years of depositions, mediations and mud-slinging that it’s taken to reach this point? The fact that the defense attorney wants to eviscerate me because of something that happened when I was a child? Or the fact that she can even introduce it? The suicide of a much-loved friend less than one month ago? The grief over the death of my beloved dog in November? Or the medical issue my German Shepherd is currently facing? Or maybe it’s just the constant growing fatigue coupled with absolutely no desire to do anything. The bone aching fatigue that develops after years of watching nearly everything you attempt  morph into clusterfucks of what seem like behemoth proportions.

Perfect example. I did my income taxes this year, plain and straightforward like every other year. I e-filed in mid January, pleased that finally something went off without a hitch. The months passed and my refund wasn’t direct deposited. I finally called the IRS at the end of March and after a few attempts, figured out how to reach a “live” person only to be told the most ridiculous thing by someone they obviously hired directly from the unemployment line. He was truly clueless and I honestly think he was just pulling things out of the air. End result? They would send me a letter within two weeks. When it didn’t arrive I called again, this time getting a polar opposite response along with the “letter in two weeks” promise. Waited until the end of the first week in May and called again only now I was really mad. Spoke to a woman who had no idea why I had not received a refund, why it hadn’t been processed, why it was in the “Review” section but hey! I would receive a letter in eight weeks explaining everything. Eight weeks??? Oh hell no! That would bring it close to July 4. The next day I emailed my congresswoman’s office and after several days of back and forth emails to provide requested documents, they were ready to roll on it. The aide from the congressional office found out what the problem was (basically there was none), reached out to the Tax Advocate’s Office and within two weeks the refund was deposited into my bank account. This begs the question but why? Why does everything have to be a battle? Why can’t things go smoothly ~ not every time but once in a while? I’d definitely settle for that.

So as I sat here tonight pondering the whole therapist debacle the phone rang. It was my original therapist. I let it go to voice mail. When I listened a few minutes later the first thing I noted is that she was rambling a bit, unusual for her. She said the reason she hadn’t returned any of my calls was because she didn’t have any openings. I realize she only practices two days a week but since we’ve had an extremely long patient client relationship, a return call should have been in order, even if she didn’t have any openings. Especially after the two teary messages I left following my friends suicide. She ended her message by saying she has a cancellation for tomorrow (Thursday) at 5 PM and to call her in the morning if I’d like it. Now I’m really in a quandary because the thought of starting over with someone new wasn’t quite as appealing to me today in her office as it was when I wrote about it last night. She’s also in a town that for some unknown reason I’ve had an aversion to ever since I moved to this state. I know I know. How can someone have a hangup over a town? I have no explanation for it other than I do. Usually when something like that happens it’s because the person or object triggers unpleasant memories from my past which is something I can understand, and rationalize. But a town?

Not really sure what I’m going to do tomorrow ~ take the 5 PM appointment with the old therapist or not. Frankly I wish I could just run away from ALL of this the way I ran away from my traumatic childhood but this time it’s not that easy. I just want SOME of it to be over so I can try to get back to figuring out my life.

Stay tuned because I have no clue what I’m doing!