PA K-9 handler suspended after dog dies in hot cruiser


A police officer from western Pennsylvania has been suspended and could face criminal charges after his K-9 partner was found dead in a hot cruiser.

New Castle police Chief Thomas Sansone said today that the unidentified officer was suspended without pay following the death of K-9, Chico. The dog was left in the car for three hours and 45 minutes on Saturday while his handler worked an extra shift at a housing development,

Sansone told the Tribune-Review  that the car's air conditioning failed and the alarm did not go off to notify him of a problem.

Chico, a 6-year-old Dutch shepherd, died at a veterinarian`s office shortly after being discovered.

Humane officers bemoaned the death as a "really a horrible way to die."

"It's not usually a willful act," said Kathy Hecker, a humane officer with Animal Friends for 20 years. "Nobody wants to cook their dog to death, but it's very neglectful, and we usually get a guilty verdict."

The handler could face stiff animal cruelty charges because in many cases, crimes against police dogs are considered the same as committing a crime against a human officer.

Chico was honored with a memorial service today and a procession through the city.