K-9 Lives Matter? Not to Cops

A comment on my previous article about K-9s,  K-9 Units — Vicious Tools of the Police State, pointed out some important facts that indicate just how much police departments really value their canine officers’ lives.

ODMP comment





I visited the Officer Down Memorial Page and checked out the numbers, and also found another case not listed on the ODMP website, bringing the number of dogs killed by their handlers to 11 out of the 26 K-9s who died in the line of duty last year. That equals 42% of K-9 deaths, more than double the number of K-9s killed by suspects in 2015. The cases are all detailed in the video and in the list below.

  1. 5/27/15
    K-9 Hector and K-9 Jimmy
    Officer Nelson Enriquez of the Hialeah Police Department in Florida, drove home at the end of his shift and just forgot about the two police dogs he had in his car. They were left unattended in the car for an unknown number of hours. He was given a paid vacation and didn’t face any criminal charges.
    No charges for Florida cop who left K-9s to die in hot car
  2. 6/18/15
    K-9 Mason (not listed on the ODMP website)
    Corporal Josh Coleman of the Gulf Shores Police Department in Alabama left his K-9 partner in an unattended vehicle for an unspecified amount of time while attending a hurricane preparedness conference. News reports state disciplinary action was taken in this case, but not of what nature. No criminal charges were filed.
    Alabama Cop Will Face No Charges After Leaving Police Dog in Hot Car to Die
  3. 6/30/15
    K-9 Nitro
    An unidentified officer with the Stockton Police Department in California left a K-9 unattended in a running car. The official story is that the air conditioning in the car failed. The officer was not disciplined or charged in the incident.
    Stockton K9 officer dies after being in hot car
  4. 7/10/15
    K-9 Baston
    An unidentified Savannah State University officer in Georgia went into this home, had dinner, and then fell asleep, leaving his K-9 partner in a hot car for 4 hours. According to reports he is “no longer employed.” No charges were filed.
    SSU K-9 dies in handler’s hot car
  5. 7/16/15
    K-9 Zane
    Officer Jerahmy Williams of the Conyers Police Department in Georgia forgot his K-9 partner in a hot car for 10 hours. He resigned citing “vicious threats” from the public following news coverage of Zane’s death. A grand jury did not return an indictment for animal cruelty.
    Officer will not face charges after K9 ‘Zane’ died after being trapped in hot car
  6. 7/23/15
    K-9 Zeke
    Officer Robert Allen of the Muldrow Police Department in Oklahoma left a K-9 unattended in a running vehicle for several hours. The air conditioning unit “malfunctioned.” No disciplinary action was taken, nor were any criminal charges filed.
    Muldrow Police K9 Dies Of Heat Stroke In Vehicle
  7. 8/10/15
    K-9 Jola
    Deputy Latham Roldan of the Jim Wells County Sheriff’s Office in Texas was fired after leaving a K-9 in hot car for over 20 hours.  Roldan was charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty in September, but I didn’t see any news reports about the outcome of the case. As Photography is Not a Crime reported last summer, Roldan should actually have been charged with a felony under state law: “Texas Penal Code 38.151 (b) (6) and (7), which states the following is a second-degree felony, punishable by a prison sentence of anywhere between two years to two decades:

    (A) killing a police service animal or engaging in conduct likely to kill the animal;
    (B) injuring a police service animal in a manner that materially and permanently affects the ability of the animal to perform as a police service animal; or
    (C) engaging in conduct likely to injure a police service animal in a manner that would materially and permanently affect the ability of the animal to perform as a police service animal.(6) injures or kills a police service animal; or
    (7) engages in conduct likely to injure or kill a police service animal, including administering or setting a poison, trap, or any other object or substance.”
    Texas Deputy Fired After Leaving Dog in Car to Die of Heat, Marking at Least the Seventh K-9 to Die This Way Since June
  8. 8/12/15
    K-9 Wix
    Another air conditioner malfunction claimed the life of K-9 Wix of the Brown County Sheriff’s Office in Wisconsin. Deputy Austin Lemberger left the dog in a running car while providing security at a PGA Championship.  No disciplinary action was taken, nor were any charges filed in this case.
    UPDATE: Brown Co. K9 Wix died of heat exhaustion
  9. 8/25/15
    K-9 Dingo and K-9 Kojack
    The final air conditioner “malfunction” of 2015 occurred when unidentified officers with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Service left two K-9s unattended in a running car.  No disciplinary actions were taken, nor were any charges files.
    State law enforcement K-9s die from heat exhaustion

In many of the cases listed above, the police departments stress that it is policy to leave K-9s unattended in vehicles to give them rest time, and that they use special devices that are supposed to alert handlers of dangerous temperatures in the vehicles (although none of the ones installed in the cars in these instances did so, allegedly).  This is despite the fact that leaving unattended vehicles idling is illegal in at least two of of the states where these events occurred last summer (Maryland and Texas). Of course we already know that laws don’t apply to our heroes in blue.

According to Berry’s lawyer, “If striking a dog while you were drunk, which is not OK, is the worst thing that any human being does in their lifetime, then they’ve led a pretty good life.”

Even Deputy Brett Berry of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department in Minnesota was allowed to keep his position and given a plea deal for misdemeanor animal cruelty after being caught on video beating and slamming his K-9 partner on the ground in a drunken rage. The more serious charge of assaulting a public safety dog was dropped. How do you think police officers and their unions would respond to reduced charges for assaulting a law enforcement officer, a felony charge often levied against civilians for merely wriggling in their handcuffs or even brushing against a police officer’s uniform?

It is absolutely heart-breaking watching this dog, that we know is fully capable of inflicting grievous harm to defend itself, be completely passive in response to the attack, even seeming to try to get back in Berry’s good graces at some points. Although trained to be vicious attack dogs, these K-9s want nothing more than the love and acceptance of their handlers. No wonder the evidence shows that these dogs “detect” drugs based much more on intentional and unintentional cues from their handlers than the actual presence of illegal substances.

At any rate, the idea that cops want special exemptions when killing and abusing their K-9 partners was made abundantly clear, albeit unintentionally, by the “I am a police dog; My life matters, too” photo put up by Thugs With Badges Today (not their real name) on their Facebook page recently . The photo illustrates the situational amnesia and continual hypocrisy exhibited by cops since it proposes that whenever someone hurts a police dog they should be charged as if they hurt a human officer. All police have to do is review their own actions and responses in these fatal incidents over the previous year to know that is exactly what they do not want.

As per usual, cops want enhanced punishments for civilians while removing themselves from all culpability, or at securing greatly reduced culpability for themselves.  As this astute Facebook commenter notes below, K-9s are elevated to human status when a “mundane” is involved in their death, and downgraded to mere property when it’s a cop’s fault. At least they seem to feel more remorse over K9 deaths than they do over the family dogs they kill every 98 minutes.