Gulf Shores, Alabama – A police dog has died after his handler forgot him in his car on Thursday, June 18. The dog, Mason, and his handler, Corporal Josh Coleman were attending the Hurricane Prep conference in Gulf Shores.
The length of time the dog was in the hot car has not been released. Coleman forgot Mason was in the back seat and left him there. When he realized Mason was missing he went to get him and found him in distress. He was taken to a veterinarian but it was too late. Mason suffered terribly, dying a slow, agonizing death.
Mason had been with the Gulf Shores Police Department since November 17, 2014. They had just celebrated his third birthday on June 9. Corporal Coleman will not face criminal charges, although he faces departmental sanctions which could be as simple as verbal warnings, or as harsh as docked vacation days, suspension without pay, transfers, or firing.
The police department issued the following press release:
“It is with great sadness that the Gulf Shores Police Department must announce the loss of Mason, our facility dog. Mason was a Community Relations dog, who was not used for enforcement purposes. On Thursday, June 18th, while transitioning between duties, 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. When Corporal Coleman found Mason he was in serious distress. Coleman rushed him to a local veterinarian’s office where treatment began. On the advice of the veterinarian Mason was then taken to an advanced facility in Pensacola. There he was treated aggressively for his condition. There were hopeful signs that Mason was doing better Friday morning. However Friday evening Mason’s condition began to deteriorate rapidly. Around 11:00 PM on Friday night Mason went into respiratory failure and passed away. The Department has conferred with the District Attorney’s office and the consensus was that no criminal charges are being filed. However the Department and City have taken sanctions against Corporal Coleman. 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. 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 press release goes on to explain how easy it is to “become distracted” and leave our loved ones to die a horrible death. When civilians leave their dogs to die in hot cars it is a felony and punishable by fines and/or jail time. When a cop leaves another cop to die in a hot car it is a “tragic mistake”. The double standard continues to raise its ugly head. With every incident of dogs killed by cops, whether by shooting them, beating them to death or leaving them in their cars, it becomes very apparent that badges do grant special rights.