This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The Cache County attorney's office on Wednesday charged a sheriff's deputy with recklessly causing the death of his patrol dog.
Endy died of heat exhaustion after Jason Whittier, the dog's handler, left him in an unattended patrol truck July 3.
Whittier, 36, has been charged in 1st District Court with aggravated cruelty to an animal, a class B misdemeanor, according to a news release from the Cache County attorney's office.
If convicted as charged, Whittier could face a maximum penalty of a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail. His initial court appearance is set for Aug. 28.
At about noon July 3, Whittier parked his patrol truck, with Endy inside, at the south side of his home, in an area without shade and subjected to direct sunlight most of the day, according to charging documents.
"Deputy Whittier then left his residence to participate in family activities, inexplicably leaving Endy in his patrol truck," charges state.
When Whittier returned home at 11:30 p.m., he saw that Endy was not in his outside kennel, and discovered the dog, dead, still secured inside the truck, charges state.
Whittier alerted his supervisor, and investigators took Endy's body to the Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Lab. According to the lab's report, Endy died of heat stroke, the charges state.
Temperatures on July 3 reached 95 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
"This tragedy serves as a stark reminder to never leave children or animals alone inside of a car for any amount of time, as temperatures can quickly rise to a deadly level," Cache County attorney office's chief deputy Tony Baird stated in the news release.
On Tuesday, the Cache County Sheriff's Office had announced without giving the deputy's name, that the dog's handler had been placed on unpaid leave and reassigned to duties not involved with the K-9 unit.
"The internal investigation identified that policy and procedures were not followed resulting in the tragic death of Endy," Sheriff Chad Jensen stated in a Tuesday news release. "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."
Sheriff's Office K-9 vehicles are equipped with safety features, as long as the vehicle is running. But the truck in which Endy died apparently was turned off.
The sheriff said that if not manually shut down, the system's alarm including horns, lights and sirens will be activated.
"We are actively pursuing new technology wherein all K-9 units will be equipped with end-of-shift warning systems," Jensen said Tuesday. "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's office declined to comment on the charges Wednesday. Meanwhile, county attorney's office investigators were still gathering additional details about the case, prosecutors said.
Endy, an 8-year-old Belgian Malinois, joined the sheriff's office last year. Previously, he had been with the Logan Police Department and had been involved in law enforcement since April 2010.