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A Hialeah, Florida police officer is on paid administrative leave while an investigation into the death of two police K9s in his care is underway.
Jimmy, a 7-year old Bloodhound that searched for missing children and adults, and Hector, a 4-year old Belgian Malinois that chased and apprehended suspects, both died after being trapped inside their handler’s patrol car for at least 6 hours in the sweltering Florida heat.
After working the night shift along with the dogs, Officer Nelson Enriquez, a 13-year veteran of the Hialeah Police Department, parked his patrol car, a Ford Explorer SUV, in front of his Davie, Florida home mid-morning on Wednesday. He went inside, forgetting that the dogs were still in the SUV.
The dogs were found more than 6 hours later, at around 7pm. Outside temperatures in Davie that day were in the mid to upper-80’s, making the temperature inside the vehicle well into the 100’s. Both dogs were dead, most likely from heat exhaustion, an excrutiatingly horrific way to die.
“Davie Police are the lead investigating agency, and with the Broward State Attorney’s Office will make the final determination whether this was an accident or if this was any sort of abuse or negligence,” Hialeah Police Sgt. Carl Zogby explained to The Sun Sentinel.
Zogby also said that Officer Enriquez is extremely distraught. The officer, his wife, and their two young children considered the dogs part of their family. Both dogs lived inside the home with the Enriquez family.
Police in both Davie, where the deaths occurred, and in Hialeah, where Officer Enriquez was employed are investigating.
“We’re investigating this just like any other animal crime,” Davie Police Sgt. Pablo Castaneda said.
After police determine exactly what happened, they will determine whether any charges should be filed. And, they will put measures in place to prevent something like this ever happening again.