In Hialeah, Florida, two police dogs are dead after their handler left them locked in his patrol SUV for approximately nine hours. Six years ago Officer Nelson Enriquez was teamed up with a bloodhound named Jimmy. The dog lived in his home with his wife and two children. Enriquez trained Jimmy, fed him and cared for him, taking him to work each day. Hialeah police said that the day Jimmy was adopted was “one of the best days in Hialeah police history.”
Enriquez also cared for a Belgian Malinois named Hector. On the morning of Wednesday the 27th, Enriquez finished his shift, went home with the dogs in the back cabin of the Ford Explorer SUV and entered his home without them, leaving them locked in the vehicle. Nine hours later he called Davie, Florida police to report the death of the dogs. So what happened during those nine hours? How did nobody notice the dogs were missing? Did they not realize they hadn’t been fed, or taken out to go to the bathroom?
According to the Miami Herald, the Hialeah police would not give an exact time frame, they said that Enriquez’s shift ended at 7 a.m. and that he was home by “mid-morning”. They say the dogs were in the car for four or five hours in the Florida sun. They have not released any further details regarding the length of time the dogs suffered.
Enriquez has been on K9 patrol for seven years. He has been suspended with pay while police investigate. Both Davie and Hialeah police are running individual investigations. The Hialeah police are focusing on the sadness of losing two of their dogs. Police Sargeant Carl Zogby said “The entire Hialeah Police Department is in mourning, We have lost two beloved members of our family. They were a three-member team.” He said that Enriquez is extremely distraught.
The dogs will be honored as all cops are. The city’s Honor Guard escorted their bodies from the veterinarian’s office to a laboratory at the University of Florida where necropsies will be performed. When the dogs are returned to the cops, they will receive a full memorial service.
According to Zogby, Enriquez, Jimmy and Hector worked from 11 p.m. Tuesday until 7 a.m. Wednesday. He said that their end of shift was delayed several hours because Jimmy was needed to help in the search for an elderly person after Enriquez’s shift ended. He couldn’t explain why the dogs were left in the car or why Enriquez didn’t call the Davie police until almost seven o’clock. He also claimed that he believed that nobody else was home at the Enriquez residence.
Cops are rarely charged with a crime in the deaths of their K9 partners. To list just a few, in 2014 a North Carolina deputy left a police dog in his patrol car overnight and it died. He was not charged. In Ohio, a Montville Township Police Department officer left his dog in his patrol car for four hours and it died of heatstroke. In Mississippi a police dog was found dead in its handler’s car. His handler was reassigned. Georgia, Wyoming, Iowa and Texas also had dogs killed by being left in cars. Miami-Dade police Sgt. Allen Cockfield killed his dog by kicking it during a training session in 2007. In March of 2008 Miami cop Rondal Brown starved his bloodhound, Dynasty, to death. He served probation.
Both Dynasty and Jimmy were donated to the department by the Jimmy Ryce Center a charity named after a child who was abucted and murdered in Florida in 1995. Jimmy Ryce’s father became an advocate in helping police find missing children. The K9 Jimmy was primarily trained in search and discovery. “I am deeply saddened to learn of the tragic death of two remarkable police dogs,” Ryce said. “Our mission is stronger than ever and with the public’s help we hope to be able to raise funds to replace these dogs.”
Mr. Ryce, may I suggest you not do that? Florida doesn’t exactly have a stellar record when it comes to taking care of their police dogs.