UPDATED July 19, 2017: Cache County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Whittier, 36, has been charged with one count of aggravated cruelty to an animal, a class B misdemeanor, after his K9 partner, Endy, was found dead inside his patrol vehicle.
An investigation into the K9’s death revealed that Whittier drove home with Endy secured inside his patrol truck at the end of his shift. At approximately 12:00pm, Whittier parked the vehicle on the south side of his home which had direct sunlight most of the day and had limited to no shade available, according to court documents. The deputy then left the home to partake in family activities.
When Whittier returned home around 11:30pm, he realized Endy was not inside his outdoor kennel and discovered the dog still secured inside his truck. By the time he was found, Endy was already dead, having spent more than 11 hours alone in the vehicle while outside temperatures soared to about 94-degrees.
Under Utah’s laws, class B misdemeanors are punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Original story published July 18, 2017:
Since 2011, at least 50 police K9s have died of heat exhaustion while left alone inside their handlers’ patrol vehicles. It’s now been confirmed that Cache County Sheriff’s K9 Officer ‘Endy’ succumbed to the same horrific fate.
On July 3rd, temperatures outside in Logan, Utah peaked at 95-degrees while K9 Endy sat alone and forgotten inside his handlers’ patrol truck at the end of his shift.
Although Cache County K9 vehicles are equipped with safety features to prevent such an incident, the vehicle must be left running for those features to function. K9 Endy died of heat exhaustion when his handler, who was not identified, did not follow police protocol.
“The internal investigation identified that policy and procedures were not followed resulting in the tragic death of Endy,” Cache County Sheriff Chad Jensen stated. “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.”
Jensen said Tuesday that the handler had been placed on unpaid leave for an unspecified period. He also was reassigned to duties not involved with the K9 unit.
K9 Endy, an 8-year-old Belgian Malinois, had been with the Logan Police Department until last year, when the Cache County Sheriff’s office acquired him. He had been in law enforcement since April 2010, participating in more than 200 assignments, ranging from drug and suspect searches to public demonstrations.
Heatstroke is so common in police K9s that it results in more deaths of K9 officers than gunshots, stabbings, and auto accidents each year. Heat-related incidents are the one of the most common causes of canine officer deaths, second only to medical and health-related issues.
“We are actively pursuing new technology wherein all K9 units will be equipped with end-of-shift warning systems,” Jensen said. “Handlers will be forced to manually shut down the security system and this system will give verbal warnings to the handler to remove the canine from the vehicle.”
The sheriff said that if not manually shut down, the system’s alarm — including horns, lights and sirens — will be activated.
He added, “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.”
A memorial is planned for the near future. An independent criminal investigation into Endy’s handler is ongoing.