Woodstock K-9 found dead of heat stroke in patrol car

Woodstock K-9 found dead of heat stroke in patrol car

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An investigation is underway after a Woodstock police K-9 died in his handler's car.

Spartacus, a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois, was found dead in his Officer Chad Berry's patrol car around 9 p.m. on Monday. Authorities later determined that he died of a heat stroke, according to the police department.

Authorities say that Spartacus was a certified multi-purpose dog and worked narcotics detection, tracking and apprehension.

Spartacus' handler is a 9-year veteran of the police department and has been a K-9 handler for seven years, police said.

As recently as last November, Berry and Spartacus won awards for working as a team.

Woodstock Police Chief Calvin Moss said that Berry is distraught over the animal's death.

"A police K-9 and their handler become very, very close. They spend virtually every waking hour together, whether it's at home, whether the officer cares for the dog overnight or whether it's here on the job where the dog is backing up the officer, "Moss said.  "It's a very, very close bond, Officer Berry has been devastated by this."

Berry has been placed on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of an internal investigation, authorities said.

The Pickens County Sheriff's Office is conducting a separate investigation into the death, which occurred in that county where Berry lives.

The Woodstock department's other three dogs and handlers remain on the street as the department reviews the policies of K-9 handlers.

Canine police cruisers are equipped with a heat alert system that sounds an alarm if an animal is in danger but it's unclear if the car was running at the time and if the system was on.

A memorial service will be announced at a later date.

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