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.

img_9357

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.

img_9352

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.

img_8470
K9 Bak

 

K9 Deaths; A Minor Accomplishment …

K9 Deaths; A Minor Accomplishment …

I’ve been a bit quiet lately. Partially because I’ve been working on getting my German Shepherd Sasha’s blog online
 and up to date. But I’ve also taken my passion for K9s who die unnecessarily because of handler negligence to a new level. An “I’m in your face and not going away” kind of level. Many animal activists have attempted to enlist me in their causes but emotionally I know my limitations. I’m aware of the dog trade in China, the killing of whales and the lucrative trophy hunting industry but I simply cannot look at graphic images nor participate in campaigns.
What I can do however is use my voice to  both raise public awareness and put pressure on police departments to take punitive action when a K9 officer dies because a handler left the dog in a closed squad car while he ran errands, went to the fair, or helped a friend fix a lawnmower – all in 90 F heat. Departments  have historically circled the wagons around handlers, referring to K9 deaths as “tragic accidents”. Yes its tragic but it’s definitely not an accident.  No responsible law enforcement officer “forgets” his partner, a dog so highly trained  and committed to its job they put themselves in harm’s way to protect the handler. And for the most part, K9 handlers are phenomenal in the care they give their 4 legged partners. Sadly these excellent human/dog teams are being eclipsed by the heinous cruelty of a few. Former Lt. Dan Peabody,  Cherokee County GA, left K9 Inka, 4-year-old  Belgium Malinois, in his hot patrol car where she died ~ suffering terribly in the process as death is neither swift nor kind. Peabody was so emotionally distraught he had to be treated at the hospital. Soon however the dark side emerged, the evil that embodied Dan Peabody  revealed who he really was, a serial dog killer. For not only did he allow K9 Inka to literally roast to death, but he executed his retired K9 Dale ~ a  yellow lab. When authorities excavated Peabody’s yard expecting to find K9 Dale’s remains,  they instead found a third dog who’d been shot in the back of the head. The dog, a female,  had been approximately 10 years old at the time of  death. Since the body exhumed was also a Belgium Malinois, authorities believe the dead female  may have been K9 Inka’s grandmother. Peabody by all accounts seemed “normal”. Heavily tattooed and muscular, he was the affable police lieutenant who, with K9 Inka, was assigned to the Cherokee County School District. As the evidence demonstrated, he was anything but normal. And he’s among a handful of police whose K9 partners have died as a direct result of their callous and irresponsible behaviors. I’ve previously written about K9 Totti  in PA and K9 Bak in OK.  K9 Bak was left in the hot car for over  37 hours without food, water, ventilation;  his handler never once checked on him. Instead, he smelled K9 Bak’s body on the way to work! Yet these are the same individuals we are taught to turn to for help? That their job is to protect us? I wouldn’t trust the care of a houseplant to these irresponsible officers whose negligence causes the deaths of excellent K9 officers in a most excruciating way. Just think about being locked in a hot car and fighting for every  breath until you couldn’t breathe anymore! Very heart wrenching and inexcusable!

 

inside-of-police-car-destroyed

The further I dig the more appalled, no make that outraged, I become. Not just with the police but the sick sadistic predators in society who are committing more and more hateful and egregious acts of cruelty against domestic animals. Raping a dog, sodomizing a puppy, strangling kittens with USB cords, stealing and  dismembering a family dog. Is this today’s norm? Has society really disintegrated to the point where people of all ages brutally abuse animals and think its acceptable? Or has it been going on all along but now the burgeoning of  social media brings the horror to our computers and tablets? In a recent case at Baylor University in TX,  Ishmael Zamora was given a 3 game suspension  by the football team after a video appeared online of him beating his young Rottweiler with a belt and kicking him to the point where the dog cried in pain. All because the poor Rottie had a pee accident.

At Missouri State College, yet another football player abused his neighbors dog Luca  whom he was entrusted to watch. Breck Ruddick admitted to “loosing his cool”, striking the 42# dog then allowing him to run away while bleeding. The owner put out an urgent plea on social media and a woman who found the injured and still bleeding dog quickly brought him home. Luca had been struck so hard that his jaw was shattered. Not broken ~ shattered! He required surgery, had 6 teeth removed and received numerous sutures.

In Florida a 20-year-old  UFC student severely abused his 17 week old puppy eventually causing the pups death. Luke Stribling  kicked and punched  his Shibu Inu puppy Julian, also for pee pee accidents. He was ticketed for cruelty in June yet the puppy remained with him until he finally killed him at 17 weeks old!! During the first veterinarian visit (for a broken leg) the vet said Julian had multiple fractures both old and new and that the pup literally shook from severe pain.  She asked Stribling why he didn’t seek medical care earlier for the pain Julian was in; Stribling said he didn’t know. Less than 2 weeks later Stribling  brought the dead puppy to a different vet who notified authorities. Investigators said an autopsy indicated the puppy had suffered severe internal injuries, including a hemorrhaged eye, liver and brain. An innocent puppy, a living sentient being. Tortured and killed for what? Urinating in the student’s apartment? Death at barely  4 months combined with the timeline of his injuries clearly show Julian was abused for most of his life since Stribling got the pup at 8 weeks old.

It takes a very sick and malicious person to do this to any living creature but it’s especially heinous when it’s done to a defenseless animal. Or a K9 officer. Animals look to us for guidance, love, nourishment and safety yet some humans are incapable of rendering the most basic of things.  We have to be their voice for they’re being abused, tortured and killed at an alarming rate. And many by youth who for all intent and purpose represent the leaders of tomorrow. I shudder to think how our country will thrive with evil at the helm.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As to the title and header picture for this post? It refers to Deputy Tommy Willcox of Alachua County Sheriff’s Office in Alachua County  FL. I’ve been writing and tweeting about him for what seems forever. A brief synopsis about Deputy Willcox. On July 8, 2016 Willcox put his partner K9 Robbie, a 6½-year-old Belgian Malinois, into his squad car at the end of a shift and drove home.  He left K9 Robbie in the car while he went to meet his family at another location. Yes the car was equipped with a safety monitoring system to detect heat but ONLY works if the car is running!  Safety monitoring system aside, how does one “forget” their partner of SIX YEARS? On a day so hot (98) it almost broke a previous record set in 1991? In that type of heat a dog will begin to experience distress in a matter of minutes. K9 Officer Robbie was named after Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Robert J. Miller of Oviedo, FL who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2008. K9 Robbie however was simply murdered by his partner in America after faithfully serving the department for 6 years. Wilcox had another K9, Kozar, that he adopted when the dog retired. In 2008, Wilcox said Kozar was limping and going blind so this Floridian example of toxic waste had his buddy put on a bite sleeve,  engage Kozar in bite work while Wilcox took his weapon and shot Kozar to death. Wilcox said he considered it a humane form of euthanasia and Sheriff Sadie Darnell supported his decision because Wilcox grew up on on a pig farm .  Sheriff Darnell said “Wilcox had killed more than 100 animals – mostly pigs – that same way.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Who gets off in any way, shape or form by being cruel to animals? It is one of the most baffling and sickening psychological perversions I’ve ever encountered. I believe that penalties for the mistreatment of animals must be harsher and more strictly enforced. These people don’t belong among us. Some say, “They’re only animals…” Exactly. Abuse an animal, go to jail. For a long time! And Deputy Wilcox was at the top of my list because there was and still is no way I can condone or even undestand his culpability in the death of TWO dogs. So my campaign began. I stated a media firestorm, targeting not only the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office and Alachua County but all the Florida media, the Chamber of Commerce, and Tourism Bureau. Let’s put it like this, if there was a organization I found them. I sent Tweets jointly to the Sheriff’s Office  and the County asking how long before Wilcox killed the next K9? I actually scheduled my tweets to ensure I didn’t forget. Finally on Oct  3, three months after K9 Robbie’s death, Deputy Wilcox was suspended for 6 days without pay and removed from the K-9 unit where he had been the lead trainer. While it won’t bring Robbie back nor give Kozar the end of life treatment he deserved,  it’s a small step forward ~ I’ll take it.

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.