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.

lina-white

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 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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

Finally, Justice For K-9 Totti…

Finally, Justice For K-9 Totti…

On July 13 I wrote a post about the death of Pennsylvania Department of Corrections  K9 Totti called RIP K9 Officer Totti ~ End of Watch. K9 Totti, a 2-year-old Golden Labrador, died on July 7, 2016, because he was left in a hot car for 3 hours by his handler, Sgt. Chad Holland. I’m not going to retell all the events of that day as honestly? They make me extremely angry. Totti’s death galvanized me on several levels. He died of heat exhaustion which is how my dog Callie died. Not because I left her in a hot car but because her vet of many years allowed her to languish in one of her exam rooms with a temperature that rose by the hour. By the time I took Callie out and arrived at the emergency veterinary practice, her temperature was past the point of being dangerous. My beloved Callie died because the prolonged and untreated temperature caused sudden onset of irreversible organ damage; she went into acute renal failure. The second reason K9 Totti’s death galvanized me is personal and I’m not “there yet” where I can think about it much less write it; someday. Suffice it to say I am indebted to a K9 officer and in writing about them, I’m paying it forward in my own way.

On October 20, 2016, K9 Totti received justice as her former handler, Chad Holland, following a bench trial, was found guilty of animal cruelty, sentenced to 2 days in a correctional facility and fined $300. There have been several media articles yet whether Holland is still employed as a correctional officer is unclear. Example ~ this article refers to him as “A former central Pennsylvania corrections officer” so to clarify if only for my own edification I reached out to a reporter I know in PA. She’s also curious and will find out from the Department of Corrections (DOC) on Monday.

K9 Totti and his handler were assigned to the Rockview State Prison, located just a few miles from Bellafonte PA, and by prison standards is quite large. Rockview has over 670 full-time employees and on September 30 had  2,367 inmates. It sits on property that consists of several thousand acres. Rockview is also the only PA prion equipped to administer the death penalty. Although technically PA is still a death penalty state, shortly after taking office in 2015  Gov. Tom Wolf announced that he was placing a moratorium on it until he reviewed a report on capital punishment in the state. Pennsylvania hasn’t executed an inmate since 1999 and has carried out only three executions since 1976, making it one of the least-active states with the death penalty. Yet the state also has one of the largest populations of death-row inmates with 176 as of October 3.

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I’ve given you this data on Rockview so you can understand how important of a role K9 Totti had as part of the drug detection unit. Chad Holland had been a handler for 9 years. The car with Totti locked inside sans air conditioning or any type of ventilation was parked only 10 feet from his kennel yet Holland failed to take care of his partner ~ a living sentient being. Instead he talked on the phone, went inside one of the air-conditioned buildings; basically, everything he did was wrong. Holland might as well have put a gun to K9 Totti’s head and pulled the trigger.  I think that we as a society are tired of reading about K9 hot car deaths due to handler negligence. The surrounding towns in PA were in an uproar and held demonstrations. We created a Twitter storm and two of the DOC top brass subsequently locked their Twitter accounts. The petition gathered over 165k signatures.

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Whereas in the past police departments have circled the wagons around a handler, as Bob Dylan sang ~ times they are a-changin’. While I think the punishment given to Chad Holland is quite lenient at least it’s a start. As you saw in some of my other K9 posts, these negligent, irresponsible handlers are being held accountable.

Which brings me to the place I’m going next,  K9 Bak’s murder by his handler, Matthew Peck in Oklahoma. Probably the worst case of wanton abuse committed by an officer. I also wrote about it on August 30 in a post called What Is It With These Psycho Cops???

However, that post was only the beginning of my involvement in K9 Bak’s death. Although unable to establish a relationship with the sheriff, I have with the district attorney and plan on being in OK for Peck’s trial. I’ve kept detailed notes and plan on writing about it. I simply cannot remain silent any longer.

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K9 Bak

 

Daniel Peabody ~ Georgia Cop And Serial Dog Killer

Daniel Peabody ~ Georgia Cop And Serial Dog Killer

Daniel Peabody appeared in Cherokee County Superior Court with his attorney on October 13, 2016 where he entered not guilty pleas to (2) counts of aggravated animal cruelty and one count of making a false statement.  A former Cherokee County school officer since 2000 and K-9 handler for the past (5) years, the tall tattooed officer got along well with students and appeared to love his dogs.  According to his LinkedIn profile  provided by Heavy.com (the LinkedIn account has since been deactivated), “Peabody was a Sergeant, Lieutenant and Operations Commander for the Cherokee County School Police Department since August 2000. It also says he has a bachelor’s degree in history, and that he “Cares About” animal welfare. But hidden behind the tattoos,  jokes and erroneous LinkedIn profile claims lay the epitome of evil, a true monster. Peabody was  indicted in September for the death of his partner, K-9 Inka, a (4) year old Belgian Malinois who assisted Peabody in school law enforcement duties, which included drug detection.

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He arrived home from work around 4:00pm ET on June 10, 2016 and left K-9 Inka inside an unventilated patrol car, not running hence no air conditioning. The Crown Victoria patrol car also lacked an agency-approved kennel or heat alarm system. Peabody never bothered to check on Inka again until (3) hours later despite the outside temperature hovering at 90 degrees F.  When the idea of checking on his partner, a dog he had personally raised since she was a puppy and whom lived with his family, he found her deceased inside the car with the windows shut. He called  authorities who responded to his home. While speaking with them was Peabody became so distraught over K-9 Inka’s death that he began to hyperventilate and had to be transported to a hospital. He abruptly resigned on June 16 and insiders attributed it to his grief and self-reproach.

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The required investigation into K-9 Inka’s death included a necropsy performed by the University of Georgia which indicated Inka died from heat stroke.Then the tale takes a twist as the Cherokee County Marshal’s Office received tips that Inka was NOT the first dog to die in Peabody’s care. Peabody’s former partner was a Golden Labrador,  K-9 Dale, who had been assigned to him between 2007 until Dale’s retirement in 2012 at which time Peabody adopted him. Former K-9 Officer Dale was approximately (6) years old when he retired. Investigators began questioning Peabody who first said Dale died from choking on a tennis ball but eventually admitted to shooting Dale shortly after his retirement because he had an ailment.k9-dale-ga-peobody

He told investigators Dale was buried at his former home in Paulding County, GA. On June 20, armed with a search warrant, investigators unearthed the remains of a dog from Peabody’s former residence which they assumed was Dale due to evidence of a gunshot.

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Peabody was arrested on June 22 and charged with animal cruelty in K-9 Inka’s death and with providing a false statement about Dale’s death.  

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Next morbid twist; a forensic veterinarian who analyzed the remains found at Peabody’s former house in  Paulding County determined they were not those of a male Labrador but a different breed/gender: a female Belgian Malinois. The animal would have been about 10 years old, and possibly Inka’s grandmother.

Justice4MurderedBelgianMalinois.

How this monster eluded detection for so long is both amazing and frightening and to me, indicative of a classic psychopathic disorder. If you read the link provided by Heavy.com you will see that his current wife had an illegal kennel operation and I’ve discovered through other media resources that she has been subsequently charged with several violations stemming from her illegal kennel operation. Yet this human hubris, this pseudo law enforcement officer who tarnishes the badge for honest and responsible officers/ handlers, has the audacity to enter a courtroom yesterday and plead not guilty? To add insult to the memory of these brave K-9 officers, Peabody’s attorney filed a motion to quash the indictment.

In closing, I must applaud Cherokee County GA for their aggressive investigation and indictment of Peabody. I commend them because for the past several years Georgia has had the highest rate of K-9 hot car deaths in the country. Finally, in Georgia it is now a felony punishable by up to five years in prison to intentionally kill a K-9, a penalty stiffened in 2015 after a police dog, K-9 Tanja,  an officer with the Walker County Sheriff’s Office, GA. was shot and killed in the line of duty. She had only been on the job for (8) weeks. tanja-walker-county-k9-ga

K-9 Tanja
EOW June 13, 2014
Walker County Sheriff’s Office, GA
She has gone home to rest for the final time
“Officer Kilo Tanja is 10-42 … Good Girl Tanja”

For now, we are left with the burning question ~ where is K-9 Dale’s body? Has Peabody killed so many dogs that he mixed up burial sites?

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Retired K-9 Dale
Cherokee County School Police Department, GA
EW 2012 ~ but when?
He has gone home to rest for the final time
“Retired Kilo Dale is 10-42 … Good Boy Dale”

Justice4Dale

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K-9 Inka
EOW June 10, 2016
Cherokee County School Police Department, GA
She has gone home to rest for the final time
“Officer Kilo Inka is 10-42 … Good Girl Inka”

Justice4Inka

Great synopsis and video of the Peabody horror

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.

**Note** Many media outlets continue to spell the late K-9 Inka’s name as “Inca”. I have verified with Cherokee County that her name was spelled the way I have written it ~ Inka.