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.

 

 

 

So I Give Up….

So I Give Up….

*I’m writing this post because I cannot figure out how to put a widget on here ~ pretty sad. Or funny depending on my mood at the time.*

I won’t write how long I sat at my laptop today trying to figure out HOW to put a widget for my German Shepherd’s blog on this one. It would be the ultimate embarrassment if I did. I definitely need those “dummy books” more than I thought. It’s just one of those simple things that one encounters in life that totally confuses you and when you see how it’s done you say, “Oh duhhhh@me”.

I’ve written a few times about my dogs, specifically Sasha and her rather unique medical problems. She had stem cell therapy in April 2016 ~ and a whole bunch of other things. I’ve  decided in my next life I need to marry a veterinarian. Ironically, I found a picture of her today when she was having an MRI of her spine in April. Wow was I shocked!

S_9-20 MRI, 4-11-16 .jpg

When I first began researching treatments for Sasha, I primarily went to vet school websites and avoided “Mary Sue’s Dog Blog” because I wanted the most accurate information I could find. I’ve come to learn that vets are sometimes not as open as they could be. Having said that, I did rely on both FB pages, blogs and You Tube videos of dogs that had stem cell therapy (SCT) because it gave me the opportunity to see real dogs in their home environment. Often the veterinarian sites show dogs in a clinical setting. Looking back I’m surprised my family didn’t hold an intervention because I had so many YT videos on the television ~ sometimes for hours. Many of them were done  by people in other countries; there were Spanish, Italian and Russian. It didn’t make a difference that I didn’t know what they were saying because both their body language and the dog’s behavior gave me the answers I was looking for.

I originally had a Facebook page for her where she had over 200 followers but Facebook is not the venue for me and subsequently I deactivated it. I’ve been transitioning Sasha’s story over to her blog, starting it in March when her medical journey began.

I belong to both Sasha and her litter sister Inga whose parents were imported from Germany. I call them “The Germs” ~ because I think I’m rather funny at times. The Germs actually have a variety of names. Inga Patrice is Annika Von Den Westlichen Bergen and Sasha Clarice is Angel Von Den Westlichen Bergen. To me however they’re just Ring Ding and Sash. Even though my late dog Callie was truly my soul mate, aware of my every emotion, The Germs also keep me going ~ just in a different way. Their soulful brown eyes and head on my lap have enabled me to weather many a PTSD trigger. PTSD is in a way my cross to bear but these dogs by my side have eased that burden. perhaps that doesn’t make sense to everyone but those who have a special relationship with a dog will understand.

Up until a Fibrocartilaginous Embolism (FCE), also known as a spinal stroke, hit Sasha in 2011, both dogs and I were actively involved in Schutzhund training and completion. Going to the club was our weekend getaways. Sasha was just shy of earning Sch3 (which is the top-level) when she was paralyzed by the FCE.

sasha-aka-chomperring-ding

She made an 85-90% recovery after fast intervention by a veterinary neurosurgeon followed by months of physical therapy. While no longer able to compete, she nonetheless remained active all year-long. She was still an excellent tracker, hiked with me in spring and fall, swam like a fish every summer, and tagged along when I snowshoe in winter. Even now, with all the medical issues that have just piled on her one after another, she remains so resilient that I just want to cry at times.

So I’m posting this because I know a few of you are dog people and would like to invite you to check her out her blog, Sasha’s Journey. She also has a You Tube channel which is also called Sasha’s Journey. If  interested, please subscribe. I really do give a lot of information and use hyperlinks frequently. Maybe when WP Live Chat resumes on September 26 I can get one of the tech kiddos to walk me through the widget thing ~ if I have any marbles left by then.

Thanks!

❤️❤️My Germs❤️❤️

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Animal Tales: Shoes for Sasha

Animal Tales: Shoes for Sasha

🐾The Feature Image is of Sasha’s ‘water boots’ ~ the ones I had made first. Lucas took a pair of dog boots I  purchased from a pet store and customized them with a strap which attaches from the front of her foot to a wrap that goes around her hock. All wraps and the knuckling strap are adjustable so I can even further customize the boot. These are specifically for swimming as the river bed is extremely rocky.🐾

 

When Sasha took her first steps in her new shoes at the Farmington farmers market a few weeks ago, Dottora Quick was moved to tears. Quick’s 8-year-old German shepherd had been turning under the toes of her back left paw for a while, the lingering result of a spinal embolism. It  took nothing for Sasha to trip and fall when she walked, to cut her knuckles on rocks and scrape her paws on pavement.

But in the farmers market parking lot, minutes after Lucas Argrew from Beyond Shoe Repair fitted her with a prototype pair of boots he’d specially tailored for her, Sasha got up and walked without trouble. After years of medical problems, it was the first time in a long time that anything had been easy for her.

“Sasha’s just always been my lovable, sweet, goofy girl,” Quick said. “Forget her pedigree and all that, she’s just a doll. And then all of these things happen to her. Every time I turn around it’s like, ‘Oh, my god; what’s next?’ And she’s met everything head on and she’s landed on her feet. So seeing her walk just maybe 10 feet in that asphalt parking lot — I just was crying.”

They were steps made possible thanks to Argrew — a cobbler who has a lot of experience with corrective shoes for humans but didn’t hesitate when asked to help a dog.

He’s a pet parent himself.

“I really love my animals. They’re a huge part of my family,” he said. “My wife and I don’t have kids; we have pets.”

Sasha’s health problems started in 2011 with a fibrocartilaginous embolism, which left her nearly paralyzed. Treatment and physical therapy helped her regain most of her movement. Earlier this year she battled, and recovered from, sudden blindness.

But “knuckling” was a persistent problem, and in recent months it got worse. Quick bought pair after pair of dog boots — in stores, online and from Canada for up to $50 each — hoping one pair out of 10 would both protect Sasha’s paws and brace her foot enough to lessen the drag. None did.

Quick dubbed the growing unused shoe collection “Sasha’s Boot Emporium.”

Sasha’s favorite trips to the Sandy River adjacent to her Strong home became more difficult. She loved to swim and it served as physical therapy for her, but her back paw scraped painfully on the river rocks.

“With the kind of knuckling I saw, I wouldn’t be able to take her in the river,” Quick said.

Then Quick read in her local newspaper that Argrew from Beyond Shoe Repair would be at the Farmington farmers market. Maybe, she thought, he could help.

At the market, Quick told Argrew about Sasha and asked if he might be willing to tweak a pair of her store-bought boots to fit better. Argrew, who has a rescue dog of his own, said he could do more than that.

“We thought we could kind of up the ante,” he said.

It wasn’t the first time Argrew had been asked to make or fix something unusual. Since opening his shop in Auburn two years ago, he’s worked on equestrian gear, furniture, orthotics, straps for prosthetics and dog leashes.

“We’re ‘Beyond Shoe Repair’ because we do a lot of things beyond just shoe repair,” Argrew said.

But dog shoes? Those were new.

Argrew spent about five hours turning a pair of Sasha’s boots into prototype custom-fit water shoes, with light-weight canvas uppers, a grippy sole and a padded support strap around her ankle — perfect for navigating the rocky river.

They were the shoes Sasha wore when she took her first successful steps in Farmington.

“When I was standing there that Saturday, crying and dumbfounded, all these people were talking (and) I heard somebody say, ‘Look at that dog’s face; she looks so happy,'” Quick said. “I looked at her face when I heard that and I was like, ‘She does look happy!'”

Quick asked Argrew if he could design a second pair, this time for everyday wear. Argrew agreed. These shoes he would make from scratch, contoured to fit a dog’s paw, with calf-skin inner soles, the same rubber soles used on human shoes and a tongue so the shoes could be loosened as needed.

“He is really a creative artisan,” Quick said. “The more I think about it, the more amazed I am.”

At $60 for the improved boots and $130 for the custom-made pair, Sasha’s new shoes were more expensive than the others in Sasha’s boot emporium, but they were in line with high-tech dog boots sold by commercial brands.

The first boots Argrew created for Sasha have had to be tweaked — her paw sometimes swells, so the left shoe has to be bigger to accommodate — but Quick has been so delighted by the first model that she’s showed it to Sasha’s vets and in a video online and plans to post about them in Sasha’s blog.

Argrew said he was happy to have helped Sasha walk easier.

“We just know how important it is to be able to help customers who can’t help themselves,” he said. “(Animals) can’t really tell you what’s wrong, but you can obviously see and try to correct the problems they can’t correct on their own.”

Quick is already thinking ahead for Sasha: snow boots by Argrew.

“If there’s one silver lining in everything that’s happened with Sasha, it’s been finding him,” Quick said, “because I think it’s just going to make that big of an impact on her.”

Have an idea for Animal Tales? Call Lindsay Tice at 689-2854 or email her at ltice@sunjournal.com.

Source: Animal Tales: Shoes for Sasha