No charges will be filed after an Alabama police officer left his K9 partner, Mason, in a hot car on Thursday for so long that the dog succumbed to the heat and died.
Corporal Josh Coleman of the Gulf Shores Police Department had left the dog in his vehicle during a hurricane preparation conference, even though he had the dog inside the conference at one point, which is how it was photographed in the above photo.
But at some point, Coleman walked Mason back to his patrol car, returned to the conference and then “forgot” about him.
The department has not provided details on how long Mason was trapped inside the deadly hot vehicle before Coleman remembered to go check on him.
“Mason’s handler Corporal Josh Coleman forgot that Mason was still in the back seat of his patrol car. On discovering Mason’s absence Cpl. Coleman located him in the vehicle,” Gulf Shores police spokesman Sgt. Jason Woodruff wrote in a statement.
Mason was visibly distressed when Coleman finally checked on him and rushed the 3-year-old golden retriever to a veterinarian, but died the following day from heat-related complications.
“Mason was not an enforcement K-9. Enforcement K-9’s spend a good deal of time in their handler’s vehicles, so those vehicles are equipped with remote heat alarms, water bowls., and other protective measures. Because Mason’s duties did not include long periods in a vehicle, those protective measures were not available in his handler’s car,” Woodruff’s statement continued on to say.
Coleman’s irresponsible actions took the life of a helpless animal, but the department would like to remind you that clearly the officer is the real victim here.
“This situation has been devastating for Cpl. Coleman and his family and we hope that they are able to work through their understandable emotions. This is a tragic occurrence that has left the entire organization mourning a terrible loss,” the statement continued.
If this was a citizen who was not protected behind a badge, it would likely not be considered a “tragic occurrence” deserving of sympathy, but a criminal occurrence partnered with animal cruelty charges.
“It also illustrates how easy it is to become distracted, and how quickly heat can affect those that we love that are particularly vulnerable to it. Please keep this in mind when transporting children, pets, or the elderly,” Woodruff continued.
Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. Just a few short weeks ago we reported on Hialeah Police Officer Nelson Enriquez, a 13-year veteran of the police force in Miami-Dade County who killed the two police dogs left in his care by also leaving them inside of his hot vehicle. He has not been charged with any crime.
However, in 2013, a 16-year-old teenager named Ivins Rosier was tried as an adult and received a 23-year prison sentencefor killing a retired police dog during a burglary.
Just another example of when a crime is committed behind the thin blue line, it is a “tragic accident,” step over to the rest of us, and its a whole different story.
UPDATE: Three days after Coleman left Mason in his car to die, a man in neighboring Georgia left his chihuahua inside his car while he ate at a restaurant with his family, leaving the window cracked to allow air to enter the car.
However, a person walking by spotted the dog and called police, who arrived and removed the dog from the vehicle to give it water because it looked dehydrated.
The owner then walked out and was arrested for animal cruelty and is now facing up to six months in jail.
The article did not release his name, but we already know he was not a cop.