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🖤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sisters From Another Mother…

Sisters From Another Mother…

Shortly after Callie was diagnosed with Canine Lymphoma in October, 2015 I joined a Facebook Support Group for Canine Cancer. I saw a post by another member from Maine so began watching for her in the group. One day she posted a photograph of her dog Maddie which took my breath away. Maddie and Callie could have been litter mates they resembled each other so much. Both jet black with flippy floppy ears, deep brown eyes and labrador mix. The poster lives north of me and I adopted Callie Ann from a PAWS shelter in Calais which is also north. Callie Ann was part of a litter of nine jet black puppies so I wondered “Could it be?” I finally got the nerve to ask the owner where she got Maddie and she told me she rescued her off the street. The vet thought she was probably about four months old so the dates didn’t coincide. Yet in my mind I began to think of these two brave fighters as “Sisters from Another Mother”.

Our beloved girls both lost their battles; Callie on November 6 an Maddie on December 7. Maddie’s mom and I shared our grief because Maddie was her “heart” dog just as Callie was mine.

I made up a little poem and started posting it every Sunday morning at 0733 along with a picture that I’d put their names on. I try to use photos that I’ve actually taken (like the cover photo for this post) but must admit that stock photos are usually nicer than anything I photograph. When I decided to leave Facebook, I continued to post the poem and picture on Twitter every Sunday morning and have my daughter post it on her Facebook timeline so that Maddie’s mom can see it. I try to alternate their names weekly ~ Callie first one week and Maddie the next.

“If tomorrow starts without me, don’t think we’re far apart, for every time you think of me, I’m right here, in your heart.”

#PrayerForMaddie#PrayerFor Callie

#SistersFromAnotherMother

♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎

And here are our angels!

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A Poem For Callie…

A Poem For Callie…

MAY I GO

May I go now?
Do you think the time is right?
May I say goodbye to pain filled days
and endless lonely nights?

I’ve lived my life and done my best,
an example tried to be.
So can I take that step beyond
and set my spirit free?

I didn’t want to go at first,
I fought with all my might.
But something seems to draw me now
to a warm and loving light.

I want to go. I really do.
It’s difficult to stay.
But I will try as best I can
to live just one more day.

To give you time to care for me
and share your love and fears.
I know you’re sad and afraid,
because I see your tears.

I’ll not be far, I promise that,
and hope you’ll always know
that my spirit will be close to you
wherever you may go.

Thank you so for loving me.
You know I love you, too.
That’s why it’s hard to say goodbye
and end this life with you.

So hold me now just one more time
and let me hear you say,
because you care so much for me,
you’ll let me go today.

“Dedicated to everyone who has ever had to have  a beloved dog laid to rest.”

Author: Susan A. Jackson

 

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I cannot take credit for this poem as it was written by Susan A. Jackson, a gifted author and poet who penned it after she had to make the heart wrenching decision to have her beloved dog laid to rest. Although our paths never crossed, Susan lived in my native New Jersey. She wrote this over fifteen years ago and it remains a well-loved poem for the loss of a pet as well as a human family member, often for a hospice patient.

Tribute To My Callie…

Tribute To My Callie…

♥︎♥︎♥︎ Where to Bury a Dog…♥︎♥︎♥︎

But there is one place that is best of all…

If you bury her in this spot, the secret of which you must already have,

She will come to you when you call

Come to you over the grim, dim frontiers of death,

and down the well-remembered path

                                                           and to your side again.                                                                                                                                           

And though you call a dozen living dogs to heel,

They shall not growl at her, nor resent her coming,

For she is yours and she belongs there.

People may scoff at you,

Who see no lightest blade of grass bent by her foot fall,

Who hear no whimper pitched too fine for audition,

People who may have never really had a dog.

Smile at them, for you shall know something that is hidden from them,

And which is well worth knowing.

The one best place to bury a dog is in the heart of her master.

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Callie Ann Feb. 16, 2005 ~ Nov 6, 2015

 

I’m Floundering but You’re Still Gone…

I’m Floundering but You’re Still Gone…

Another day filled with a myriad of emotions, none of them positive or constructive. My dear friend remains in the morgue, 22 days after his suicide. I still can’t fathom how his next of kin can allow this to continue, how they can have so little respect for a man who shared the family name for 60 years. Is this really how families act? When the childhood you shared has long gone, does all sense of respect and dignity go with it? Do people stop caring about civility when they reach a certain age? Do they become so involved in their own lives that the years they  shared long ago with family simply fade?

I struggle with these questions every single day yet I can’t form an opinion or come to a definitive conclusion. I’m disillusioned, angry and incredibly sad . I’m angry that he chose to pull the trigger with saying goodbye, angry that he couldn’t hold the dark grip of depression at bay, angry that I didn’t check on him sooner, angry at the disgusting, raptor like actions of the landlady and her two cronies. Angry at the police who put a weapon used in a suicide back inside an empty unlocked house, angry because they notified the wrong next of kin and justified it by saying “It made more sense to notify  family that lived in state”, angry that because the officer in charge thought the house contained “junk”, he left a wallet and other items there for the taking, angry that the police seem more concerned about landlord rights than the fact that a man’s life possessions had been thrown out of windows, onto the ground, taken for resale, or simple trashed. I am extremely tempted to upload photos of my dear friends tossed belongings, strewn about  the yard like bird droppings on a sandy beach. I’d like nothing more than to share with anyone reading my blog the visual nightmare I encountered upon my arrival on  May 1.  It is only out of respect for my friends privacy that I don’t. Trust me when I say it’s hard. I’m angry at a family that leaves his earthly body in a cold drawer because their computer is “on the fritz”. Angry that they calmly told me on the telephone that they didn’t  have a correct phone number for him. Oh boo fucking hoo. He was listed in the area phone book ~ did anyone ever think to look??? I’m angry at myself for sometimes doubting him over the years when he told me stories of  emotionally distant family members. I know he wasn’t a liar or prone to embellishment but I thought perhaps a bit of self-pity was creeping in. How wrong I was.

I’m sad to the point that I’m becoming physically ill. I go two and three days without eating and  don’t even realize it. The fact that I’ll never enjoy a spirited conversation with him, never get an impromptu education about the mating habits of a particular bird, never discuss a book we’ve shared, never enjoy a day at the river watching the dogs swim and soaking up some sun. I’ll never get to do his laundry, watch as he and my husband play checkers or chess, listen to some of his government conspiracy theories , laugh at an email he forwarded me, or listen to him complain about the woes of still being tethered to dial-up internet service. We will never comfort each other as one of us mourns the loss of a much-loved aged pet. I miss that little smile that crept up despite his efforts to look stoic. It would start at the corner of his eyes and end with a partially upturned lip. Oh he tried to pretend it didn’t happen but I assure you it did. I’ll miss cooking meals that, although I never told my family, I used to cater around food he favored such as pork. My family can eat my cooking any time whereas he was never invited to anyone’s home for a meal thus I always tried to prepare something he would enjoy. I kept Trader Joe’s Peach Salsa on hand because I served it once and he really liked it. In the summer I kept Raspberry Twisted Tea in the refrigerator because I knew he enjoyed just one every now and then.

It never dawned on me what an integral part of our family he had become. The tapestry of his life was woven into ours as surely as if we’d known each other since childhood. I know that as  the sun will rise tomorrow  I will miss him for the rest of my days. I told him many times, both in person and in emails, that we cared about him, we considered him family and that our feelings for him would never change. Yes we may disagree at times, even get mad at one another, but in the grand scheme of life that’s irrelevant because when you truly care for another person, you don’t let minor misunderstandings or perceived slights come between you. I wonder if he believed me? I wonder if he knew how much I cared? How much my husband and daughter cared? I wonder if he knew that he held, and continues to hold, a very special place in our hearts? I can only hope that he did.

I have never been affected by anyone’s death as I have by his. Part of it is because of the way he died, part is the travesty that occurred following his suicide, and part is because I’ve never lost anyone that I loved as much as him before. Yes I mourned for my “parents” but because I spent my early years being abused in ways that one would not think possible, I wasn’t devastated or emotionally incapacitated by their deaths. I respected my parents, loved them to a degree, took care of them as they aged and became frail but I never truly mourned them the way I do him. I cried sincere tears, felt a sense of loss then processed my emotions and moved forward. With my friend’s death however I seem to be paralyzed with raw, seeping grief. I am stuck and don’t have the emotional resources to get past this because of the craziness still lingering. I am unable to attain any sense of acceptance or closure because he remains in the morgue, like a homeless person that no one steps forward to claim. It’s eating away at me bit by bit, day by day yet I am powerless to do anything. Today my husband and I briefly discussed attempting to get  “whatever” so that we could have him cremated the way he wanted. We decided that it would require a lawyer, a legal battle, and who knows what else. So for now, we sit and wait for the family to make a move and I call the Medical Examiner’s Office to see if he still remains there. The last thing the family conveyed to me is that one of the nephews was looking into having the VA pay part of his cremation costs. It took me less than (5) minutes to find the information; the government  will pay $300 towards final expenses and pay for interment in a VA cemetery along with a plain headstone – something our friend explicitly did not want.  

He was an immensely private person. He valued his privacy and for the most part cherished his time alone in a small but darling cabin in the woods with his beloved cats. Sounds rather simple and easy to do right? Not really because he was at the mercy of a “caretaker” who, as I mentioned in my previous post, thought it acceptable to enter my friend’s home whenever he was out. What a horrible way to live! After he could no longer afford the upkeep/repairs to his truck, we were his sole means of transportation. We would pick him up, take him to do errands, then bring him to our house for food, friendship and laughter. Inevitably after an hour he would get “antsy” because he feared for his cats and his personal property. Last Thanksgiving was an exceptionally good day for him, so much so that as we sat in the living room, enjoying the fire as we discussed which movie to watch, I asked if he was concerned about the caretaker. He told me no because he had devised a new plan to keep him out. Instead of the string trick which merely indicated if someone had entered the door, he had used his chainsaw to drop some rather heavy yet still moveable trees. Before getting into our car, he would drag the trees across the driveway about 1/4 mile before his cabin. He knew that the caretaker was physically incapable of moving the trees and even if by some miracle he succeeded in moving one, he wouldn’t be able to move them all. His  mobility was somewhat impaired and with the trees as a barrier, he would be unable to walk the 1/4 mile to my friend’s cabin. Ingenious idea but why? Why was he forced to such measures? He  rented that cabin from the scavenging landlady for 20+ years with a rent to own deal in place (the notarized paperwork which I had previously held and read was missing of course) yet he was subjected to  blatant disregard for his privacy and his home by her friend, the foul-mouthed foraging caretaker. I remember two winters in a row when I became stuck in his driveway because it had not been plowed. I saw all the other driveways plowed as I drove into the landlady’s cul-de-sac of sticks. Most of the cabins in her empire were rented by transients; there for a month or two then gone leaving a yard full of trash in their wake. It seemed that every time I drove down to my friends he had new neighbors. But by golly in winter they were all plowed except for him.  How utterly disgusting!

Today I retraced our friendship, thought about how it began and what made us so incredibly close. It didn’t take long before I remembered  we’d met over a little dog dressed in a Mrs. Claus dress. That wasn’t the pivotal point that drew us together however.  As our friendship flourished, it became defined by the fact  that we had both, at different periods in our lives, been accused of something we didn’t do. I can tell you without pause or reservation that being falsely accused is a terrible feeling, compounded by living in a small community where people you don’t even know are aware of your personal affairs. It bothered our friend so much that he wouldn’t sit in a coffee shop with us for fear of being scorned. When we took him to the store he was in and out in record time. My heart ached for him because he was such a kind and gentle soul who wanted nothing more than to live in peace. I asked him many times why he just didn’t move; get a fresh start either in another part of the state or in a different state. His answer was always the same ~ he had nowhere to go nor the resources to do it with. In time I devised a plan; a plan that I’m confident would have succeeded. I’d been working on it for nearly a year, consulting with outside sources.  In hindsight I should have told him but I chose not to because he would have objected. He was not only a private person but fiercely independent.

How I wish he could have held on just a little longer for I was almost there. Now my plan will never come to fruition but most of all, I won’t see him again ~ at least not in this world. I am so very sad and so completely lost.

I love you and I miss you dear friend. I fervently hope you are at peace.