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An internal Cache County Sheriff's Office investigation has found that K-9 service dog Endy died of heat exhaustion after being forgotten in a hot, unattended patrol truck by his handler earlier this month.
Sheriff Chad Jensen said Tuesday that the handler, who was not identified, had been placed on unpaid leave for an unspecified period. He also was reassigned to duties not involved with the K-9 unit.
The sheriff's internal investigation indicated that the handler forgot the dog was still in his truck on July 3, when the high temperature in Logan reached 95 degrees. Upon finding the dog dead, the handler immediately notified his division commander.
"The internal investigation identified that policy and procedures were not followed resulting in the tragic death of Endy," Jensen stated. "My administration has conducted a comprehensive review of our canine program, including equipment, care, welfare, daily maintenance and training. I believe our policies and procedures are sound. This incident was a result of human error and protocol violation."
The Northern Utah Critical Incident Task Force, under the auspices of the Cache County attorney's office, is investigating Endy's death. Chief Criminal Deputy Attorney Tony Baird did not immediately return a call seeking an update on that investigation status Tuesday.
The sheriff's K-9 vehicles are equipped with safety features when left running. The truck Endy died inside of apparently was turned off; he was locked in at the end of the handler's shift.
"We are actively pursuing new technology wherein all K-9 units will be equipped with end-of-shift warning systems," Jensen said. "Handlers will be forced to manually shut down the security system, and this system will give verbal warnings to the handler to remove the canine from the vehicle."
The sheriff said that if not manually shut down, the system's alarm including horns, lights and sirens will be activated.
Endy, an 8-year-old Belgian Malinois, had been with the Logan Police Department until last year, when the sheriff's office acquired him. The dog had been in law enforcement since April 2010, participating in more than 200 assignments ranging from drug and suspect searches to public demonstrations.
"Endy ... along with our other canine Rokki, have been actively engaged in protecting the streets and communities throughout the valley," Jensen said. "The loss of Endy was unexpected and heartbreaking, and our officers mourn his loss."
The sheriff added: "Endy's death serves as a devastating reminder to us all about the importance of eliminating distractions, maintaining a routine and being vigilant about never leaving children or pets unattended in hot vehicles."
Plans for a memorial service for Endy at the Sheriff's Complex will be announced in the near future, Jensen said.
Endy was the second police dog to die this month in Utah.
Dingo, a 7-year-old Belgian Malinois under the care of a Unified Police Department officer, was shot and killed July 6 by a parole fugitive during the man's arrest in Salt Lake County. Potential charges are pending in that case.