State News

July 27, 2013

Officer suspended after police dog dies in car

A police dog handler was suspended and reassigned to traffic duty after his canine partner died while left in the officer’s patrol car.

Chad Berry, a police officer for the city of Woodstock north of Atlanta, had been a police canine handler for seven years before he found Spartacus, a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois, dead in the car outside his home, Woodstock police Sgt. Randy Millgan said Friday. He said Berry contacted Woodstock police and the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office. A necropsy concluded heat stroke was the probable cause of death.

“Both investigations reveal that, although there was no intent to cause harm to K-9 Spartacus, Officer Berry left Spartacus in his assigned patrol vehicle upon getting home from work and attending to his children,” Milligan told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The delay in removing Spartacus from the vehicle resulted in the canine’s death.”

Berry was suspended for 10 days and fined $325 after being cited for cruelty to animals. Milligan said the officer would no longer work with dogs and had been reassigned to the department’s traffic unit, a move that will slash his pay about $6,000 a year.

The necropsy performed on Spartacus found the dog had no other injuries or signs of abuse.

Milligan said Spartacus’ death prompted Woodstock police to review the department’s canine policies and adopt additional safeguards to help protect its police dogs.

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