Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Utah: Cache County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jason Whittier was "distracted" and forgot his K9 partner, Endy, to cook to death inside his patrol vehicle

UTAH -- The Cache County Sheriff’s Office has released further details about the death of a K-9 service dog, earlier this month. Endy is reported to have suffered and died of heat exhaustion July 3, after being left unattended in a patrol vehicle.

Sheriff Chad Jensen said Endy’s handler (Deputy Jason Whittier) was "distracted" after finishing his shift, accidentally leaving the dog in the patrol truck. 

The deputy was placed on administrative leave, pending an internal investigation and an independent investigation by the Northern Utah Critical Incident Task Force.

“I can’t even describe the words to tell you how he feels right now,” said Jensen. “The same sentiment is that way through our whole organization.”

The internal investigation identified that the handler did not follow policy and procedures, resulting in Endy’s death. He has been reassigned and will not be paid during his leave.

Jensen explained that all K-9 patrol vehicles are equipped with safety features for the dog, while the handler is on-duty and the vehicle is left running. In the case of Endy’s death though, the equipment was not running because the handler was off-duty.

“There is other products out there that we are looking into right now and will have installed within the next couple of weeks. One of them is more of an End of Tour or End of Watch type system.

"It is a system that automatically turns on with the ignition, but when you shut the ignition off it requires a manual shutdown of the system, and gives a verbal reminder to the handler that the dog is still in the vehicle.

“If for whatever reason, the system doesn’t get shut down manually, in just a few seconds after the ignition is turned off, it will set off the lights, sirens and the horns, to again notify the handler that the dog is still in the vehicle.”

Endy was one of two dogs that made up the Sheriff’s Office K-9 team. He, along with Rokki were often dispatched to suspected drug arrests and patrolled the jail.

Jensen said the sheriff’s office will be hold a memorial service honoring Endy, his service, and the legacy he leave among law enforcement and residents across the valley.

“Right now we are kind of shooting towards the middle of next week, just to make sure that all the parties, the public and law enforcement are invited. The handlers and some of the trainers also wanted to be here, so we are going to try and time it with that.”

Jensen said this is a case where being preoccupied had tragic consequences.
“Endy’s death serves as a devastating reminder to us all about the importance of eliminating distractions, maintain a routine, and being vigilant about never leaving children or pets unattended in hot vehicles.”

The Northern Utah Critical Incident Task Force's independent investigation is still ongoing. It is being led by the Cache County Attorney’s Office.


(Cache Valley Daily - July 19, 2017)