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Protect and Serve: Watching out for Man’s Best Friend

March 26, 2015

An Ohio police officer was found guilty Wednesday of one count of companion animal cruelty after his K-9 partner died of heat stroke in his police cruiser Sept. 28, 2014.

The officer, Sgt. Brett Harrison of the Montville Township Police Department, was found guilty for not providing his K-9 Beny with the necessary food and water during the four hours the dog was left unattended in a police cruiser. Harrison will not serve jail time, and will only pay a $500 fine.

This is certainly not an attack on those in law enforcement, nor is it an indictment of K-9 handlers.

But in this particular case, I think we failed a worker.

We failed Beny.

Beny, like any other domesticated animal, relied on humans for his survival.

Yet he was left in a car for four hours. Forget even that the a/c was off, that no windows were open or that he didn’t have any food or water.

This K-9 officer, a dog whose life was devoted to protecting and serving the community, was left alone in a car for four hours.

In one of my previous reporting positions, I attended a training session for the two new K-9s who had joined the local Sheriff’s Office.

These dogs were so proud to help, so eager to please their partners. At the time, one of the officers said having a K-9 partner was like having a best friend at work.

In 2014, there were 20 K-9 deaths, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, which commemorates fallen law enforcement officers.

Of those 20 deaths, four, including Beny’s, were from heat exhaustion. Three of those deaths were the result of K-9s being left in cars by their handlers.

I think we can do better.

Beny deserved better.

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