Press Release from City of Woodstock Police Department
WOODSTOCK, July 26, 2013: The Woodstock Police Department has completed its Internal Investigation into the death of K-9 Spartacus at the home of his handler, Woodstock Police Officer Chad Berry.
On the evening of June 17, 2013, Spartacus was found unresponsive in Officer Berry’s assigned patrol vehicle at the officer’s residence in Pickens County. Immediately upon the discovery, Officer Berry notified his supervisor and the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office respondedtoinvestigate the incident.
A necropsy requested by theWoodstock Police Department determined that Spartacus’ probable cause of death was heat stroke and that there were no other indications of injury, maltreatment, or abuse. Spartacus had also been seen for an annual physical examination and vaccines on February 21, 2013 and was found to be in good health at that time.
Both investigations reveal that, although there was no intent to cause harm to K-9 Spartacus, Officer Berry left Spartacus in his assigned patrol vehicle upon getting home from work and attending to his children. The delay in removing Spartacus from the vehicle resulted in the canine’s death. Accordingly, thePickens County Sheriff’s Office cited Officer Berry for violating County Ordinance Section 14-22, Cruelty to Animals, subsection (f) for leaving an animal unattended in a parked vehicle without proper ventilation. Officer Berry has paid a fine of $325 as established by County Ordinance.
As a result of the Internal Investigation, Officer Berry has been removed from the Woodstock Police Department K- 9 program, resulting in the loss of $6,000 in special duty pay annually. In addition, he is being suspended without pay for ten days for violating department policies governing the responsibilities of canine handlers. The nine-year veteran of the Woodstock Police Department is now assigned to the Traffic Enforcement Unit.
It is noteworthy that the Woodstock Police Department is certified by the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police and, as such, meets or exceeds 118 model policies and operational practices. Nevertheless, the tragic death of Spartacus prompted a comprehensive review of all canine policies and procedures and resulted in the inclusion of additional safeguards to better protect the health and safety of our police canines. Moreover, although all Woodstock Police Department K-9 patrol vehicles are already equipped with heat alarm systems, these systems are being further upgraded to better ensure the well being of our dogs and handlers.