Wednesday, July 11, 2012

DPS officer "forgets" K-9 in hot patrol car

An Arizona Department of Public Safety K-9 was taken to a vet in life-threatening condition after his handler left the dog in his car for more than an hour on Wednesday when the officer responded to an emergency call.

The officer was distraught and immediately placed on administrative leave, according to a DPS spokesman.

The incident unfolded at the DPS headquarters near Tucson about noon on Wednesday when an officer was transferring gear from one patrol car to another, said Officer Carrick Cook, a DPS spokesman. As the officer was moving his gear, a call went over the radio about a serious accident on Interstate 19 in Tucson, Cook said, and the officer responded.

It wasn't until the officer was en route to the crash that he realized his K-9 partner, Jeg, was in the car, Cook said, and he immediately returned to the parking lot to tend to the animal.

The Tucson Fire Department took Jeg, a Malinois, to a vet, Cook said.

"We are extremely concerned about the dog and the officer," Cook said. "These K9s are an integral part of our agency and what we accomplish with our interdiction. We look at them as other officers; they are family members in our agency."

It is unclear how hot it was inside the patrol car, or if it was parked in the direct sun. The Tucson area had triple-digit temperatures Wednesday.

The agency's last K-9 death came in 2007 when a dog ran into Interstate 10 during a pursuit and was struck and killed by a semi.

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