COLUMBIA, S.C. — A South Carolina police officer’s K-9 died in the heat after it was left in a police vehicle for more than 6 hours, and the officer faces no criminal charges, according to the Associated Press.
Master Police Officer David Hurt was instead suspended without pay for five days, suspended from the bomb squad and banned from handling police dogs.
K-9 unit Turbo, a 22-month-old Labrador retriever mix, had been with Hurt for about seven months.
The explosive-sniffing dog went through hundreds of hours of training in preparation for his job.
On July 26, Hurt and Turbo arrived at a high school. Hurt went in for an active shooter training, but chose to leave Turbo in the vehicle out of concern for the loud noise and the crowd.
Turbo was one of multiple K-9s left in police vehicles at the function so that they would be ready and available should they been needed.
The air conditioning was on and the windows were open in Turbo’s vehicle, but the vehicle’s heat alarm was turned off.
According to the police chief, the other handlers checked on their K-9s frequently, but Hurt did not even let Turbo out to use the bathroom, the AP reports.
At the end of the day, Turbo was found listless with white foam around his mouth, symptoms of heat stress.
Hurt brought the dog to the veterinarian, but, after organ failure, Turbo was put to sleep two days later.
The police department doesn’t full understand what happened.
“He didn’t give any logical reason,” Holbrook said at a news conference, according to the AP.
Prosecutors determined Hurt used terrible judgment but did not consider his actions criminally negligent. They decided no charges should be filed.
The AP reports the police chief did not fire Hurt because the officer took immediate responsibility for his actions.
“It was a mistake of the heart he will have to deal with the rest of his life,” Holbrook said.
The chief estimated that the dog’s death, in addition to being like a lost family member, was a financial loss of about $25,000 in training and other expenses.