The beginning of summer is the usual time we get a slew of stories about dogs perishing in locked cars, and this summer is no exception.
This story is different: This time, the dog that died was a police dog, and his handler, Officer Chad Berry of the Woodstock Police Department in Atlanta is being investigated to see whether he should be charged.
Spartacus, a Belgian Malinois, was found dead of heatstroke in the patrol car parked at the Pickens County home of his handler, Berry, according to Brittany Duncan, Woodstock police spokeswoman. Spartacus was a certified multipurpose dog who performed narcotics detection, tracking, and apprehension for the department, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The 12-year law enforcement veteran — with seven of those as a K9 handler — discovered his dog in the car and called his supervisor. Berry was 2010 officer of the year and recently took second place at a K9 handling competition.
“After the retirement of his first police K9, who is now a family pet living with the K9 handler, the handler is devastated by the loss of his second police K9,” Duncan said.
Berry has been put on paid administrative leave while the case is investigated.
Pickens sheriff’s spokesperson Kris Stancil said it’s possible that Spartacus was in Berry’s patrol car for about six hours from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.
“We are committed to the care and proper treatment of our working K9s,” said Duncan. “We are mourning the loss of one of our own.”
The high in Woodstock was 86 degrees Monday; temperatures of course can rise dramatically in a sealed car. We do not know whether the windows were sealed or not, however. The dog is undergoing additional tests to see whether he had any underlying conditions. A memorial is planned for the coming days.
Investigators plan to meet with the district attorney in a few days to determine whether Berry will face criminal charges.