Should Utah deputy be charged after leaving police K-9 in hot car to die?

Cache County Sheriff’s Deputy K-9 Endy died of heat stroke after being left in a hot patrol vehicle July 3, 2017, photo location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of the Logan City Police Department, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Officials have released the cause of death of a Utah police K-9 who died earlier this month, and have charged the K-9’s handler with recklessly causing the death of his patrol dog.

K-9 Endy, an 8-year-old Belgian Malinois, died of heat exhaustion after Cache County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Whittier, the dog’s handler, left him in an unattended patrol truck on July 3, according to a statement issued Tuesday by the Cache County Sheriff’s Office.

Cache County Sheriff’s Deputy K-9 Endy died of heat stroke after being left in a hot patrol vehicle July 3, 2017, photo location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of the Cache County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

On Wednesday, the Cache County Attorney’s Office filed an Information in 1st District Court accusing Whittier, 36, of class B misdemeanor aggravated cruelty to an animal, according to charging documents. If convicted, Whittier could face a maximum penalty of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

“This is a case attributed to distraction with tragic consequences,” Cache County Sheriff Chad Jensen said in a statement. “Endy’s death serves as a devastating reminder to us all about the importance of eliminating distractions, maintaining a routine and being vigilant about never leaving children or pets unattended in hot vehicles.”

At around noon July 3, Whittier returned home from work and parked his patrol truck, with Endy inside, at the south side of his home in an area subjected to direct sunlight most of the day, according to a probable cause statement filed by the Sheriff’s Office in support of Whittier’s charge.

According to the Utah Climate Center, temperatures that day reached 94 degrees.

“Deputy Whittier then left his residence to participate in family activities, inexplicably leaving Endy in his patrol truck,” according to the statement.

When Whittier returned home at approximately 11:30 p.m., he realized Endy was not in his outside kennel, the report stated. Whittier then discovered Endy, dead, still secured inside the truck.

Administrative action has been taken concerning the findings of an investigation into Endy’s death, the Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday, including leave without pay and a job reassignment for the handler.

“The internal investigation identified that policy and procedures were not followed resulting in the tragic death of Endy,” Sheriff Jensen said. “… My administration has conducted a comprehensive review of our canine program, including equipment, care, welfare, daily maintenance and training. I believe our policies and procedures are sound. This incident was a result of human error and protocol violation.”

As a result of the investigation, the Sheriff’s Office said it is actively pursuing new technology wherein all K-9 units will be equipped with end-of-shift warning systems in which handlers would be forced to manually shut down the security system. The system gives verbal warnings to the handler to remove the K-9 from the vehicle before activating horns, lights and sirens until the dog is safely removed.

“The loss of Endy was unexpected and heartbreaking, and our officers mourn his loss,” Jensen said. “Endy was a beloved member of our organization and our community. The effects of his loss are felt throughout the Sheriff’s Office and law enforcement throughout Cache County.”

Logan City Police Department initially purchased K-9 Endy in 2010. When the first handler Endy had been assigned to work with later retired, the Police Department said it assigned Endy to a second officer, who worked with the K-9 for four years.

The Police Department sold Endy to Cache County Sheriff’s Office in 2016 after Endy’s second handler was injured in a traumatic motorcycle accident.

Email: kscott@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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25 Comments

  • Foxyheart July 20, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    Y E S !!!!! His dog trusted him to the fullest extent. He let him down…….

  • Stephen Joe July 20, 2017 at 6:16 pm

    There’s no excuse for his actions. That dog suffered and died because of the morons failure to properly take care of the poor defenseless animal. Fire him and take his credentials. He needs to find another line of work.

  • ScanMeister July 20, 2017 at 6:26 pm

    There are consequences for one’s actions. Hopefully safety protocols will help prevent this in the future.

  • ladybugavenger July 20, 2017 at 7:25 pm

    How about charging parents/guardians that forget a child in the hot car. How about that?

    There is more punishment for a dog being left in a hot car than a child! Disgusting!

  • DRT July 20, 2017 at 7:30 pm

    As far as I’m concerned this deputy should be criminally charged. But then, so should the (so called,) responsible person in all of the cases of children dead from being left in a car.
    To charge this officer with the death of his K-9 partner, without charging the parents, or responsible parties with the death of the children, is an outrage. Should the cops be held to a “higher standard?” Absolutely! But there is absolutely no reason or excuse or alibi that is acceptable for the deaths of the children.

  • Real Life July 20, 2017 at 8:04 pm

    Charged AND fired. And the people who do the same to their children should also be charged.

  • beacon July 20, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    Actions should have consequences whether you’re a parent who forgets a child or a handler who is responsible for and forgets a dog. Perhaps if more people who “forget” another person or animal in a car were held to some level of responsibility people’s memories would improve. That may sound harsh, but so is dying from heat.

  • ladybugavenger July 20, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    You forget a child in a hot car and it dies , you get a fundraiser. You leave a dog in a hot car, you get aggravated cruelty to animal charge.

    Does anyone else see a problem with this?

    • Real Life July 21, 2017 at 6:35 am

      They are BOTH horrible offenses Ladybug.

      • ladybugavenger July 23, 2017 at 4:39 pm

        I just feel like leaving a dog in a hot car is less than leaving a child in a hot car. Both are tragic, but a child’s life is more important (in my opinion) and this officer gets charged and the parent don’t. I find it confusing. As if the law is saying a dogs death is more important and more criminal than a child’s death.

  • Wm July 20, 2017 at 8:55 pm

    Yes… Police K9’s are also considered “Poilce Officers”. Criminals who kill a K9 during the commission of a crime can be charged in a similar manner as if they killed a police officer. Many communities even give the older retired K9’s a monthly stipen for the remainder of the dogs life to pay for food and veterinary bills. I care very much for our fine police officers, however I’m tired of hearing about both people and animals being left in hot cars.

  • hiker75 July 20, 2017 at 10:48 pm

    Of course. Endy was a police officer! Why wouldn’t the officer who killed him be charged? Same deal with parents who leave kids in cars. Responsibility comes with accountability. Let’s hold people accountable!

  • Snarkles July 21, 2017 at 8:53 am

    He should have to repay the amount it cost to buy and train the dog which is considerable, and he owes that to the taxpayers. Jail time is kind of lame; he didn’t do it on purpose and his job, reputation, and future have been affected. I like the idea of putting in a warning system so dogs won’t be left unattended again. So sad for all.

    • ladybugavenger July 21, 2017 at 9:33 am

      What has this world come to when you need warning signals to remind you that there is a child or dog in the small space of a car? Very sad times

  • darkgoddess July 21, 2017 at 9:42 am

    Our new truck beeps and flashes “check rear seat” on the gauge panel when we first turn it off. I never thought I’d see the day that people need to be reminded to check the car for children or pets.

  • vintagehippie July 21, 2017 at 9:58 am

    It is unpardonable that this officer left his dog to die in the vehicle. This guy is too stupid to be a police officer. He should be prosecuted and fired and made to pay for the cost of the animal. At a minimum !!!

  • Kyle L. July 21, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    I am not a Judge or a jury, neither are any of you. You all should be ashamed of yourselves getting on here and throwing what you think around so carelessly. You have only a few facts from one perspective from one article and you are willing to hang this officer. Shame on all of you. Give the proper people the time to make informed decisions to what the proper course of action should be and then make your comment. Until then let this officer morn the lose of his partner. I guarantee he is having a really hard time right now.

    • ladybugavenger July 21, 2017 at 3:03 pm

      The fact is a dog was left in a hot car, the fact is a child was just left in a hot car. the why’s are just excuses. I’ve got lots of excuses but that didn’t get me out of a driving with a suspended license ticket and my car repo’d (10 yrs ago) I had no idea it was suspended. I had renewed my license twice in California and my California license was suspended because Utah suspended it all of a sudden after 8 yrs out of Utah and I get pulled over a ticket and my car goes to the repo yard) you see….consequences for actions, excuses don’t matter, especially if I was driving on suspension and killed someone. Would anyone care about my problem? I don’t think so.

      Judge? Jury? Executioner? No, just hope the people that leave children in hot cars are in front of the judge and jury and no more calling it an “accident”

      This officer will have his day in court. Why haven’t the parents in Utah that leave a child in a hot car have their day in court? WHY?

      • Kyle L. July 21, 2017 at 5:34 pm

        You say you are a Christian. What do you think of Mathew 7:1? “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” Be very careful how you reply.

        • ladybugavenger July 21, 2017 at 7:31 pm

          People always leave out the rest of that scripture

        • ladybugavenger July 21, 2017 at 7:33 pm

          Is that what you tell every judge and jury member? Or are you just trying to use a part of a scripture to somehow shut me up?

        • ladybugavenger July 21, 2017 at 7:52 pm

          you’re right Kyle, I love Jesus! I’m saved by the blood of Jesus. God so loving, took a person like me and said, ladybug, you’re worth it! God gave me eyes to see the spirit. And Kyle, you’re comment was not in good spirit but used to harm me. You’re dangerous Kyle. You would let somebody, hypothetically drown, instead of telling them they are going down the wrong road. Dangerous Kyle. And my friend, you went down the wrong road.

          • ladybugavenger July 21, 2017 at 8:02 pm

            i should have said metaphorically instead of hypothetically.

            May God Bless you Kyle.

        • ladybugavenger July 22, 2017 at 7:28 am

          The scripture you choose to quote, if you read on, you may see that it is less about judging and more about hypocrisy…
          I can preach and warn and take someone’s keys away and say don’t drink and drive because I dont drink and drive. But if I am drinking and driving then I shouldn’t preach or say or tell my brother, don’t drink and drive because I would be a hypocrite.(for example) …..continue reading Kyle

  • Kilroywashere July 21, 2017 at 5:19 pm

    The officer is no doubt devastated and loved the dog. If people can t see that angle, I understand. We as a society love to condemn. The story is sad, but in my view, it is not comparable to leaving a child in a car. That is a false comparison, unless you are a dog person which I am not. The law is the law, and punishing the officer may make many of you happy, but the day he shows up and gives your child CPR and saves their life, the paradigm shifts. What about the folks who intentionally abandoned 2 dogs in 100+ heat along the Santa Clara river that I came across 2 years ago. As I said before I am clearly not a dog person as I was attacked by a dog as a child if that is ok to mention, but I spent an hour walking those dogs to safety. People sometimes screw up, and if the conditions are ripe, it can go extremely wrong. I have never heard of this happening before, until today. The officer should be admonished and never permitted again to be a police dog handler. That for me is fair.

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