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