Two Hialeah K9 Dogs Die in Vehicle

Hialeah K9 Dogs

Hialeah Police K9’s Jimmy and Hector

This one really hurts.  A Hialeah Police K9 handler ended his shift Wednesday morning (after an OT search for a missing person), went into his Davie house, and left his two K9 partners in the vehicle.  By evening, both dogs had expired.  The officer was a seven-year handler and 13-year cop.  He was given both a Belgian Malinois and a bloodhound because he was a proficient handler.  How could this happen?

Apparently, when the handler went into his house, he turned off the engine of his assigned Ford SUV.  With the vehicle not running, his heat alarm supposedly went inactive.  I do not understand a system designed like this because every one I have had in my K9 cruisers still functioned with the engine off.  It is a back-up in case the engine stalls for a mechanical reason and the a/c goes out.

Most modern heat alarm systems trip at a pre-set high temperature, firing up the lightbar or an audible horn, dropping the rear windows, and activating a fan.  Some have pager options and door poppers, while others have a manual shut down routine that prompts the handler to remove the dog.  A handler tests his system each shift.  Fairly standard stuff, but to me the most important feature is the audible alarm.  A handler should not be far from his car because it carries precious cargo.

I can remember the times when my partner and I went inside the house at the end of a long shift, only to be awakened hours later when the Florida heat had fired up the interior of our vehicle–and the alarm went active.  I would stumble outside in my shorts and flip flops to deactivate the wailing siren.  It reminded me that the thing worked.

Rather than placing blame on the machinery, the cop will suffer the consequences of his inaction.  I was a K9 handler for eight years and I never, ever forgot my K9 dog somewhere.  This situation is painful to me because I know how attached I was to each of my four-legged partners.  They were a part of me and I always had to know where they were.

The Davie Police Department is investigating the K9s’ deaths.  The 17th Circuit State Attorney’s Office will review the results, if criminal charges are filed.  There will also be an internal investigation by the Hialeah Police, which may result in departmental discipline for the officer.

The first two paragraphs of Florida State Statute 828.12–

(1) A person who unnecessarily overloads, overdrives, torments, deprives of necessary sustenance or shelter, or unnecessarily mutilates, or kills any animal, or causes the same to be done, or carries in or upon any vehicle, or otherwise, any animal in a cruel or inhumane manner, commits animal cruelty, a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or both.
(2) A person who intentionally commits an act to any animal, or a person who owns or has the custody or control of any animal and fails to act, which results in the cruel death, or excessive or repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering, or causes the same to be done, commits aggravated animal cruelty, a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or by a fine of not more than $10,000, or both.


Either section one or two of FSS 828.12 are potential charges, depending on the information uncovered in the investigation.  There may be mitigating circumstances of which we are unaware, so we should let the Davie Police do their job and conduct a thorough investigation of the incident.

Eight other police dogs have died in 2015.  The causes include gunfire, poisoning, vehicle crashes, drowning, and animal attacks.  I am proud of the service these dogs provide in difficult and sometimes dangerous circumstances.  No other resource can perform the job of a K9 team.

K9 Jimmy was a seven-year-old bloodhound given to HPD by the Jimmy Ryce Center.  Jimmy served his community for six years.  Belgian Malinois K9 Hector was four years old and had worked the street for a year.  Rest in peace, dogs.


photos–Hialeah PD

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6 Responses to Two Hialeah K9 Dogs Die in Vehicle

  1. Greg says:

    Damn that suxz, my deepest sympathy to the Officer and these LEO deaths are even harder in that while i am not a LEO i think the animals become very attached and part of the officers family as well.
    I have no agenda here except to say thank you to the men and ladies who risk so much to be society’s bodyguards. But after this story and the mention of overtime and given the experience of the Officer mentioned; how much a factor of fatigue played a part in this tragedy.
    Regardless, I am sorry for your loss and thank you for your service…

  2. Aaron E says:

    This is horrible! I know the handler is suffering terribly, and the department and community are left without the critical services of their K-9’s. Not being a K-9 handler I’m wondering why the dogs were left in the car overnight anyway. Don’t they have a kennel that they stay in overnight?

    I hate to think it, but the overtime detail may have led to the officer simply forgetting to get his dogs out and place them in a kennel. Tragic!

    • Randall says:

      The dogs stay either in the house or in a kennel in the handler’s yard, Aaron. Some agencies require the K9 kenneled when the handler is away. I think he may have been exhausted and simply forgot them. Damn shame.


  3. Patrick says:

    This is horrible and I can’t help but feel so much sympathy for the handler. I’ve been a handler for the past 2 years and I know how much work it takes. When I got my dog, my assigned vehicle was 9 years old, had over 200k miles, a homemade kennel and the AC didn’t work. We had no heat alarm so I never got more than 50 yards from the vehicle when my partner was in it. The AC went out on me several times during the time before the motor finally blew up. I’m now on my 3rd vehicle and about to get a newer one. We have a nice commercially made kennel and a heat alarm that we got used from another agency. Prayers for the Officer and his partners. The only people who truly understand what it means to be a K9 handler is another handler.

    • Randall says:

      Thanks for your thoughts, Patrick. K9 handlers tend to be a close club, with guys having respect for other guys they actually dislike because we all know what we have been through to make it to the human end of the leash. My first heat alarm was made by our city mechanics with Radio Shack parts. I did not trust it, but it worked fine for years.


  4. Greg says:

    This two K9’s is just terrible and my deepest sympathies to the unfortunate people involved in this tragic situation. The LEO’s are society’s bodyguards and the risks they take are sometimes extreme but i always thank them for their service, plus the LEO’s eat less calories and are often more useful and in harms way more than the military.
    Again i am sorry for that loss of the Female officer killed in the line of duty the day before bringing her baby home from hospital, such a tragic situation; my heart goes out to her family and friends…

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