GREENVILLE, TEXAS – The Greenville Police Department is grieving over the loss of one of its two police dogs. Her name was Liberty, but she died trapped in the back of a hot squad car. Her handler apparently forgot to put her in the police department kennel when he got off work Wednesday afternoon. “This is a difficult time for the Greenville Police Department,” Chief Dan Busken told CBS 11 News. And he adds the officer feels terrible. “He’s devastated, and I don’t know if that term is even strong enough.”
Ironically, the officer, Jeff Gore, created the K-9 unit 11-years ago. He raised Liberty from a pup. A bloodhound, she was used for search and rescue, which is why she was kenneled. The other dog, Ceiko, is a drug sniffing German Shepherd, and goes home with its handler because they get called out at all hours.
Chief Busken says we all suffer from a busy lifestyle and things competing for our attention. “Whether we’re shuttling kids here or there, whether we’re shuttling animals here or there, we get busy and inadvertently things happen. And there’s times when you have a tragedy like we have here.”
Despite the emotional loss to the department it must still determine whether any laws were broken or city or departmental policies were violated, so investigations along those lines are already underway.
Sometimes Texas courts have ruled a dog’s death in a hot car as cruelty, depending on circumstances, including time of year. Dallas had its own tragedy in 2004 when a German Shepherd, Queno, was left in a police car. It has since introduced an alarm system alerting drivers of a hot car, including paging them.
Gore has been put on administrative duties while the issues are sorted out. His police association released a statement of support, saying the “police family” is hurying. “Our Association supports our K-9 handler and his family in their time of grief,” it said in part, “and would ask that the public respect his time of grief as well.”
Rose Thornhill has placed 3-thousand animals in the Greenville area through her Yellow Rose Rescue. “Doing rescues you see it a lot and it’s just a horrible feeling, I’m getting chills just thinking about it.” She adds, “I don’t really know how you could forget you had one back there, but I guess things happen. He probably feels horrible, I know I would.”