K-9 Freckles ~ A Senior Beagle’s Unnecessary Death…

K-9 Freckles ~ A Senior Beagle’s Unnecessary Death…

Okaloosa Correctional Institution is located in Crestview Florida, which is part of Okaloosa County and under the direct supervision of the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office. The correctional facility can house approximately 900 inmates and employs a variety of staff including K9s. One of them was K-9 Freckles, an 11-year-old beagle who, according to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, was “a great dog with a great nose who set the bar high for her counterparts.”

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Law enforcement had been looking for an alleged car thief, Eric Russell, since May 7, 2017, when he fled after officers attempted to pull him over for a traffic stop. On May 11 several agencies along with K9s took part in the manhunt for Russell. The OCSO utilized Okaloosa Correctional K-9 Freckles in the search and tragically she died. On their Facebook page, the OCSO said Freckles “either overheated or suffered a heart attack“.

Okaloosa County is located in the Northeast part of Florida close to the Alabama border. The weather on May 11 was approximately 85 degrees.

The Walton County Sheriff’s Office announced  they captured Eric Russell around 10 pm that same night. 

Beagles are mostly used in airports, harbors and correctional facilities to sniff out narcotics and any illegal substances. Because of their size, they are easy to lift into areas which a person otherwise can’t access. They can also be fast, swift and great for tracking. Beagles are also used as cadaver dogs to sniff out bodies or substances.

I kept reading comments by the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office that K-9 Freckles died “doing what she loved best”. On their Facebook page, where you can also view K-9 Freckles procession, many people posted that Eric Russell killed K-9 Freckles. This really bothered me for several reasons. She was 11- years old and as seen in this photo, a bit overweight.

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I started to do a bit of research and learned that the average life expectancy of a beagle is 12 to 15 years, with a median of 13.5 years. In this informative article by the National Beagle Club, a beagle is considered a senior at age 7. This also addresses the problems seniors develop such as the decrease in their ability to regulate their body temperature, arthritis, and excess weight. Still curious, I emailed a long time handler friend and asked his opinion. He was kind enough to allow me to use it in my post as long as I removed any personal information.

Honestly, I’ve only seen them used as narcotic dogs and they excel at it. Beagles can be used to track but it’s not very realistic to have them actively track in a manhunt despite their great noses. Scenario – we’re tracking a suspect that may or may not be armed and he runs into the woods ok? The beagle would be able to track him fine but when he located the suspect what could the beagle do for me? Whereas if I’m using a Mal or GSD whose also certified in tracking, I can send him in on the suspect. Chances are he would comply more with what I’m saying with an aggressive sounding/looking Mal or GSD standing there as opposed to a beagle. And if the suspect resisted, a Mal or GSD could easily subdue him where a beagle can’t.

I reached the conclusion that there was NO excuse for this. This senior K9 officer was used to track a man who stole “Donnie’s truck” (found in one of the comments on the Facebook page) among other vehicles.  K-9 Freckles was a “jail dog” and as such would have been used to detect contraband inside the facility. I  don’t understand why they felt the need to utilize her for a car thief. Eric Russell wasn’t being hunted because of a violent crime such as rape or murder so why risk the health of a senior dog? Part of the responsibility that goes with being a K9 handler is to use common sense when utilizing them. One of the biggest considerations while working with a K9 is their health, fitness, and welfare. According to the National Police Dog Foundation, the average retirement age is approximately 10 years which is contingent on their health status. 

Chances are OSI has younger German Shepherds or Belgian Malinois to handle out of control inmates, riots and so forth. At age 11 K-9 Freckles should have been retired or strictly limited to inside the jail. Instead, she ran after a car thief till she died. Despite the Facebook posts calling K-9 Freckle’s death a LODD (line of duty death), I don’t see it that way. She died because either her handler or someone within the OCSO made the decision to take an 11-year-old dog carrying extra pounds on a small frame and have her track a car thief in 85-degree weather. This was not a line of duty death nor a death doing something she loved. It was a grievous and senseless death due to a poor decision and complete lack of judgment by whoever was in charge of K-9 Freckles. 

Several Florida handlers have made heinous blunders the past few years resulting in the death of their dogs. Even with the death of K-9 Freckles, there are more to come for the Summer of 2017.

K-9 Freckles

EOW  May 11, 2017

Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office FL

She has gone home to rest for the final time

“Officer  Kilo Freckles is 10-42 … Good Girl Freckles”

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.

 

💙Next up ~ another Florida K9 dies while trapped in a hot car🖤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

K-9 Doki ~ Have You Forgotten Him?…

K-9 Doki ~ Have You Forgotten Him?…

Heat-related K9 deaths ~ and so it begins for 2017.

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K-9 Doki, a two-year-old Belgian Malinois with the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office, Ridgeland, SC, died on April 20, 2017.  According to the Jasper County Sun Times, K9-Doki’s death was attributed to heat exhaustion when the K-9 vehicle he was in experienced a “malfunction causing the temperature to rise to an unsafe level,” the JCSO said. He was rushed to a veterinarian hospital where tragically he died. According to Accuweather.com, the outside temperature in Ridgeland, SC on April 20 was 85 degrees F.

Doki 2 year old Belgium Malinois

How long K-9 Doki was in the vehicle is unknown. Very little is known about K-9 Doki except that he had been with the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office for approximately one year. This article refers to the announcement of his death on the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page but I wasn’t able to locate it.  They have two Facebook pages but the first one says it’s their official page whereas the second doesn’t.

In either case, neither page mentions K-9 Doki nor are there any photographs, almost as if he’s been forgotten. 

I  was also unable to find any mention of a funeral, memorial service or tribute of any kind. It is as if he never existed which is truly heartbreaking because Doki’s life did matter. Perhaps The JCSO should read this and take heed.

A Working Dog’s Oath
I will lay down my life for you
and expect nothing but love in return.
I protect my officer with my life,
and would gladly take a bullet in his place.
I am sent in to find lost children
and fugitives on the run.
I find drugs and weapons and even bombs.
I am the first sent in  

and sometimes the last to leave.
I am the nose and ears of my officer.

I will protect and serve him.
I would die for him and for you.
I only ask for compassion and a kind word

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.

doki-jpg-1492714144

Your Life Mattered Dear Boy…

 

🖤Next Up ~ The return of a monster.💙

Summer & More K9 Deaths But First…

Summer & More  K9 Deaths But First…

Before I begin detailing the 2017 senseless, heat-related K9 deaths and one K9 who was mysteriously murdered, I want to do an update on several deaths from the summer of 2016.

I first wrote about the hot car death of K-9 Lina, an officer with the Madison County Sheriff’s department in November 2016,  The Senseless Death of K-9 Lina….Part 1

I knew there would be the second part because no decision had been made regarding disciplinary action or charges against the handler who had forgotten about her in a hot patrol unit parked in his driveway. Little did I know how convoluted her story would become until it began unfolding. I eventually wrote four parts because I wanted the public to know how some departments dismiss a hot car death as “an unfortunate accident”. The negligent handler might receive a minor disciplinary action but charges aren’t usually brought and if they are it’s typically a misdemeanor. The reasoning behind the prosecutor’s decision (with department input) basically comes down to negligence versus intention. Was the handler negligent? If the parties involved believe this then the K9s death is ruled accidental. If they believe the handler had intent then it’s criminal. I agree there’s a difference between intention and negligence for clearly in most cases but not all,  the K9s death was not the handlers intent. However, prosecutors and departments cannot continue to dismiss these deaths as unfortunate accidents and therefore deem the handler simply negligent. They must be held to a higher standard to protect their partners. These deaths are preventable and illustrate acts of wanton negligence or over-reliance on technology to protect the dogs when in reality, it is the handler’s responsibility. When an officer is partnered with a K9, they become just as close as a human partner. Would they lock their human partner in a vehicle for hours? With no means of escape? Unequivocally the answer is no. And if they did? The charges would be much harsher than a low-level misdemeanor and their careers would instantly end. Yet the powers to determine time and time again that the K9’s death is negligent accompanied by a plethora of excuses for the officer; overworked sleep deprivation ~ the list is endless.

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The September 9, 2016, hot car death of K-9 Lina was deemed an accident. Matt Durrett, 4th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney announced on September 23 that he was not charging Deputy Cornelison. To his credit, on September 26, Sheriff Phillip Morgan took disciplinary action for K-9 Lina’s death:

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.
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Sheriff Phillip Morgan

The community rallied around the deputy by forming a Facebook support group and collecting funds to help him while on the unpaid suspension. Finally, on November 12, a memorial service for K-9 Lina was held. Yet her name wasn’t on the MCSO Memorial Page.

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She was only two years old.

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Now…

On January 1, 2017, Madison County had a new sheriff,  Sheriff Rick Evans.

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K-9 Lina is finally listed on the MCSO Memorial page. In June 2017, a new K9 handler was announced on the MSCO website. Former Sheriff Phillip Morgan kept his word about having heat-sensing equipment in the K9 vehicles:

Clint Ham, is our new K-9 Handler, he has been partnered up with Kandy, and equipped with a new vehicle which has been paid for with 100% drug forfeiture funds, the vehicle is equipped with all the latest equipment, including heat sensor/alarms which will signal the handler if the temperature in the vehicle rises to a dangerous level, in addition it will roll the windows down, and will activated lights and siren if the condition is not corrected. Kandy from all indication will be an outstanding asset to the Madison County Sheriff Office.

As for Deputy Jonathan Cornelison? He has been promoted and is now Corporal Cornelison.

K9 Lina Cornelison

 K-9

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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Lina, we haven’t forgotten… 

 

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.