Spartacus, a Belgian Malinois trained in narcotics detection and tracking, was found dead Monday night inside the car, which was parked outside his handler’s home.
The unidentified officer, a 9-year veteran of the department, was placed on paid leave, a police spokeswoman told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The spokeswoman said Spartacus was the second K-9 assigned to the officer. The first, after retiring, became his family pet and still lives with him.
In addition to an internal investigation, the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office, which responded to the officer’s home Monday night, is investigating the dog’s death.
A necropsy determined the cause of death was heat stroke.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 20th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, car, death, dog, dogs, georgia, handler, heat, heat related, heat stroke, investigation, K-9, k9, law enforcement, patrol car, pets, pickens county, police, spartacus, woodstock
What’s a working dog to do? You learn your trade, hone your skills, toil away, only to find out that the world around you has evolved to a point where those skills are no longer much appreciated.
It’s why you can’t find a blacksmith too easily nowadays. It’s what happened to the elevator operator, the milkman, and, at least from my biased and disgruntled point of view, the newspaper reporter.
Such too was the case with Phelan, a marijuana-detecting Labrador retriever in the employ of the police department in Lakewood, Colorado.
With the passage by Colorado voters of Initiative 502 — legalizing the recreational use of small amounts of marijuana — the skill Phelan was best known for is no longer much in demand there.
In fact, his biggest asset has become a liability, the News Tribune reports.
Phelan was handed his pink slip this week and sold to the state Department of Corrections, where, in his new job, his inability to distinguish between marijuana and other drugs won’t be a problem — all drugs being illegal behind bars.
The same story is playing out in Washington state, where voters also legalized marijuana use, and where police departments are figuring out whether to cease training new dogs in marijuana detection, put their existing dogs through ”pot desensitization” training or just retire them and send them out to pasture, according to the Associated Press.
Take it from me, pasture sucks. Dogs and people, I think, prefer having a mission.
But Phelan’s mission, at least in the two states where moderate amounts of marijuana are now permitted, no longer much needs to be accomplished. Worse yet, alerting to small amounts of marijuana could mess up prosecutions in cases involving other, still illegal, drugs.
Say Phelan alerted to drugs in the trunk of a car. Phelan’s inability to distinguish between heroin and marijuana — or at least specify to his handler to which he is alerting — means any subsequent search by officers could have been based on Phelan detecting an entirely legal drug, in an entirely legal amount.
That means the “probable cause” the search was based on might not have really existed, and that means any evidence of illegal drugs subsequently found in the search would likely be tossed out.
Thus Phelan, unless he were to be retrained to drop marijuana-detecting from his repertoire — not easily accomplished — has ended up going from cutting edge law enforcement tool to an old school has been.
Drug detecting dogs — traditionally trained to alert to the smell of marijuana, heroin, crack cocaine, methamphetamine and cocaine – can’t specify what they’re smelling, much less the quantity it might be in.
In Washington, the new law decriminalized possession of up to an ounce of the drug for individuals over 21, and barred the growth and distribution of marijuana outside the state-approved system.
Dog trainer Fred Helfers, of the Pacific Northwest Detection Dog Association, said abandoning pot training is a “knee-jerk” reaction: “What about trafficking? What about people who have more than an ounce?” Still, he’s helping departments who want to put their dogs through ”extinction training” to change what substances dogs alert to. That takes about 30 days, followed by a prolonged period of reinforcement.
The Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission removed detecting marijuana from its canine team certification standards this year, and no longer requires dogs be trained to detect it, but some others say, given large amounts of pot are still illegal, it can still be a useful skill for a dog to have.
In Pierce County, prosecutor Mark Lindquist believes new dogs are the answer — dogs trained in sniffing out the other drugs, but not marijuana. He’s not convinced dogs can be re-trained. “We’ll need new dogs to alert on substances that are illegal,” he told the Associated Press.
Other police departments, like Tacoma’s, aren’t making any changes.
“The dog doesn’t make the arrest, the officer does,” said spokesperson Loretta Cool. “A canine alert is just one piece of evidence an officer considers when determining whether a crime has been committed.”
Phelan was one of two drug-sniffing dogs on the police force in Lakewood, Colorado. He’ll be replaced by Kira, a Belgian Malinois who was trained not to alert when she smells marijuana. Duke, a Labrador retriever mix with the old-school training, will remain on the force for now.
Phelan, though, will be moving on, and I sympathize with the crime-fighting Lab.
His new gig in the slammer is clearly a step down the career ladder — not unlike going from being a newspaper reporter detecting corruption and injustice to an unpaid blogger who mostly (but not entirely) regurgitates material already written.
And, for Phelan, there’s the added insult of being sold for the lowly sum of one dollar.
Surely — old school as his talents may be – he was worth more than that.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 12th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alert, cocaine, colorado, court, criminal justice, detect, detection, dog, dogs, drug-sniffing, drugs, heroin, job, K-9, k9, lakewood, law, law enforcement, marijuana, marijuana laws, mission, newspapers, police, police dogs, problems, prosecutors, purpose, reporters, searches, skills, sniffing, tacoma, useless, washington, working dogs
Scooby, whose all-knowing nose played a key role in tracking down a cop killer during an interstate manhunt, passed away in his sleep about 9 a.m. Saturday, police said. He’d been suffering from an undisclosed illness, according to the New York Daily News.
The bloodhound was most noted for assisting in the 2007 apprehension of two suspects who had fled the city after gunning down two officers who had pulled them over in Brooklyn for driving a stolen BMW.
Officer Russel Timoshenko, 23, was shot in the face and died a few days later. Officer Herman Yan, his partner and now a detective, was wounded but survived.
The two suspects, Dexter Bostic and Robert Ellis, managed to escape the city and make it as far as the Poconos in eastern Pennsylvania, where they hid out in the woods.
Scooby, joined by six other police dogs and about 300 police officers from several states, launched a manhunt in the woods, based on reports of the two suspects having been seen in a nearby rest area.
Scooby took part in the search that night, and is credited with — when the search resumed the next morning — tracking down Ellis, who was found resting against a tree. Bostic was later apprehended as well.
Bostic was convicted in December 2008 of murder and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Ellis was convicted only of weapons possession, according to the New York Post, and was sentenced to 15 years.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 2nd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bloodhound, dead, death, dexter bostic, died, dog, dogs, herman yan, K-9, k9, killing, manhunt, new york, nypd, pets, police, police dogs, police. officer, robert ellis, russel timoshenko, scent, scooby, shooting
About 150 people gathered for a memorial service at the Thomasville Funeral Home.
Police Chief Jeffrey Insley said before the service that an autopsy determined that Cheko — a drug-detecting dog who also was trained as a tracker — had been poisoned, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. He was one of four dogs in the K-9 unit.
Cheko died in March, just a week before he was scheduled to retire, at the Randolph County home of his handler, Thomasville Police Sgt. John Elgin. Elgin found Cheko dead inside his kennel, about two days after the dog started acting sluggish.
The Randolph County Sheriff’s Department is investigating how the dog ingested the poison. Elgin said additional tests will be conducted to determine what chemicals or poisons killed Cheko.
“It could have been an act of retaliation from a past arrest, but we are not going to point any fingers until we complete our investigation,” he said.
“Any new dog who takes Cheko’s place will have big paws to fill,” Insley said at the service.
Among those paying tribute to Cheko was Thomasville Mayor Joe Bennett told the audience, Cheko had gone to heaven. “I doubt there are drugs there, but he is looking for something and having fun.”
Posted by John Woestendiek April 9th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, cheko, dead, detecting, died, dog, dogs, drug, funeral, john elgin, K-9, k9, killed, law enforcement, memorial, north carolina, pets, poison, poisoned, police, randolph county, sniffing, thomasville, tribute
The trial began yesterday for a former Miami-Dade police officer charged with killing a K-9 with a series of kicks.
Duke, a Belgian Malinois, died in 2006 after collapsing during a training exercise with handler Sgt. Allen Cockfield, according to the Miami Herald.
Cockfield is charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty and a felony count of killing a police dog. If convicted, he faces possible prison time and the loss of his state police certification. Cockfield contends any blows he might have administered were in self defense.
“He was simply trying to save himself,” defense attorney Douglas Hartman said.
Authorities arrested Cockfield, 55, in 2007 after a one-year investigation by Miami-Dades Police Department’s internal affairs unit. Cockfield spent more than two decades as a canine handler with the department, which has since fired him.
Miami-Dade prosecutor Isis Perez told jurors yesterday that Duke was not obeying commands during a training exercise, prompting Cockfield to lift the dog up by its leash and kick it three to five times.
“He stiffened his hind legs, shaking as he was going into some sort of seizure, and a few seconds later he became numb, and that was it,” a fellow police officer who witnessed the incident testified.
Cockfield’s attorney disputed that account, saying the dog was behaving aggressively and his client was trying to protect himself.
Posted by John Woestendiek July 28th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: allen cockfield, animal cruelty, animals, belgian malinois, court, dade, dog, dogs, florida, investigation, K-9, k9, killed, law, law enforcement, miami, news, pets, police, police dog, training, trial
Police in Walsrode, Germany, say they have trained a vulture named Sherlock to lead them to cadavers.
By placing a GPS device on his leg, they can track him and respond — I’d hope before he’s eaten too much of the evidence.
“If it works, it could save time because the birds can cover much more area than sniffer dogs or humans,” officer Rainer Herrmann told the Daily Mail.
The turkey vulture, a natural scavenger, feeds almost exclusively on carrion, finding its meals through keen vision and a sense of smell that allows it to detect the gasses produced during the decay of dead animals from as high as 3,000 feet in the air.
“‘It was a colleague of mine who got the idea from watching a nature programme,” Herrmann said. ”
Sherlock can even find remains in woodland or in thick undergrowth. Unlike sniffer dogs, who need regular breaks, Sherlock doesn’t seem to get tired and can cover a far larger area.
Sherlock is being trained at Walsrode, the largest bird park in the world with 650 different species.
Trainers hope to assemble a squadron of crimefighting vultures, but — given that the vultures aren’t native to the area, would have to be raised from chicks to be tame, and require lots of training — it will be a while before they are called to duty.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 21st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, birds, buzzards, cadaver, cadaver dogs, dead bodies, decay, finding, germany, gps, K-9, k9, locating, news, ohmidog!, pets, police, police dogs, rainer herrmann, scavenger, scent, sherlock, tracking, turkey vultures, vultures, walsrode
A police dog in Alabama died Friday after his handler left him inside a patrol car between shifts, police said Monday.
The internal affairs divisionof the Montgomery Police Department is investigating the incident, a spokesman said.
The officer has been transferred from the K9 division and could face further discipline depending on the outcome of the investigation, the Montgomery Advertiser reported.
The dog, named Urso, was laid to rest Monday.
Police said the officer had driven Urso to the Police Department’s kennel mid-morning Friday, but “just forgot” to check him into the kennel. The officer returned to the kennel for his next shift at 8 p.m. and found Urso dead inside the vehicle.
A police spokesman said the officer, who wasn’t named, is “emotionally devastated” by Urso’s death, which is believed to be heat-related.
Urso, a German shepherd, joined the department four years ago after being trained at a facility in North Carolina.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 28th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alabama, animals, death, dogs, forgot, german shepherd, handler, heat, K-9, k9, left in car, montgomery, news, officer, ohmidog!, partner, pets, police, police dog, urso, vehicle
Two New Orleans police officers have been charged in connection with the deaths of two police dogs in unrelated incidents.
Jason Lewis, 33, is accused of leaving Primo, a Belgian Malinois, unattended in a police department SUV, leading to the dog’s heat related death.
The case was heavily publicized last summer when the Metropolitan Crime Commission released photographs, including the one above, which shows what Primo did to the vehicle before dying from apparent heat stroke. Lewis was charged with aggravated cruelty to animals.
Sgt. Randy Lewis, a former supervisor in the New Orleans Police Department’s K-9 unit, meanwhile, was charged with malfeasance in office, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.
Randy Lewis, 45, was handling another K-9, Phantom, who last May fell down an open elevator shaft at the abandoned Charity Hospital building in downtown New Orleans — while Lewis was moonlighting. Lewis claimed he was on duty and involved in a training exercise, according to a spokesman for the Orleans Parish district attorney’s office. Actually he was being paid to work on a private security detail.
Neither officer has worked with dogs since the deaths.
Attorneys for the officers said the charges are unfair and they will fight them in court.
“Both of these cases are significant above and beyond the fact that, tragically, an animal lost its life,” said Rafael Goyeneche, president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission, which last summer asked the district attorney’s office to look at the cases. “I think that these cases, both of them, indicate and speak to the police department’s inability to adequately police itself.”
According to an LSU necropsy report, Primo, 6 years old, likely died from shock due to heat stroke. He was taken to a veterinary office with a body temperature of 109.8 degrees.
The other dog, Phantom, died after falling from the 17th floor into an empty elevator shaft at around 9:30 at night on May 21, 2009. According to a report obtained by the Crime Commission, the dog’s body was removed by officers the next morning.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 24th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, belgian malinois, charged, charges, cruelty to animals, dogs, elevator, fall, fell, heat, heat stroke, jason lewis, K-9, k-9 unit, k9, law enforcement, left in car, malfeasance, metropolitan crime commission, new orleans, officers, ohmidog!, pets, phantom, police, police dogs, primo, randy lewis, shaft, vehicle
A police dog from Buffalo tracked down a shoplifting suspect in Canada — even though the alleged culprit was submerged in a swamp.
Thor, a two-year-old German shepherd, and his handler Lt. Sam Losi, were in Niagara-on-the- Lake to participate in training drills with the Niagara Regional Police canine unit.
Sgt. Jeff Hopkins, head of the Niagara canine unit, was conducting training when he received a call to assist in a search for a shoplifting suspect. With no other dogs at his immediate disposal, he invited Thor and his handler on the call.
They were told a man had been seen shoplifting from SportChek at Niagara Square, ran from security officers and had disappeared in a swampy area behind the mall.
Thor tracked the suspect’s scent from the mall to the swamp and jumped into the water. He came to a stop on what appeared to be a mound of debris in the water.
“We looked closer and saw what looked like a pant leg and a nose sticking out of the water,” Hopkins told the Niagara Falls Review. “He was totally submerged under water.”
A 45-year-old Niagara man was pulled from the swamp and is now being treated at a local hospital. No charges have yet been filed.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 23rd, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, buffalo, canada, crime, dogs, german shepherd, K-9, k9, news, niagara, niagara regional police, ohmidog!, pets, police, police dog, scent, shoplifting, submerged, suspect, swamp, thor, tracking, training
The SPCA of Anne Arundel County is having their 19th annual Walk for the Animals on Sunday, May 2, from 8 a.m. to noon at Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis.
The SPCA has been helping animals and the community since 1920. The SPCA holds the walk to raise money to care for the thousands of homeless animals brought to their shelter each year.
Walkers can collect money between now and May 2. Incentive prizes are given to all walkers who collect at least $30.00. To qualify for prizes the money must be turned in the day of the walk.
Brochures and pledge sheets are on the AACSPCA website.
Walkers have several options — with 1 mile, 2.5 mile, and 5 mile courses, all of which are wheelchair and stroller accessible. Pets are welcome but you don’t have to have an animal to walk.
Adoptable animals will be showcased on the SPCA’s Waggin’ Tails Mobile Adoption Unit, and, in addition to vendors and animal welfare and rescue groups, the Anne Arundel County Police K9 Unit will give a demonstration.
For more information, call 410-268-4388.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 21st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aaspca, adopt, adoption, animals, annapolis, anne arundel county, collect, demonstration, dogs, event, events, fundraiser, k9, news, ohmidog!, pets, pledge, police, prizes, quiet waters park, rescue, shelter, spca, vendors