A Woodstock Police Officer trains with his dog Spartacus. (STAFF/SAMANTHA M. SHAL)
A Woodstock police officer is on paid leave and an investigation is underway into the death of a 3-year-old police dog that died from heatstroke in his handler’s patrol car Monday night, police say.
Woodstock Police Officer Chad Berry is on paid administrative leave pending the results of an internal investigation into the death of his police dog Spartacus, who was found dead by Berry at his residence in Jasper around 9 p.m., according to police reports.
The Pickens County Sheriff’s Office went to Berry’s house in Jasper when they received a report of the dog’s death from the owner and are conducting their own investigation into the incident, a spokesman said.
Pickens Sheriff’s spokesperson Kris Stancil said that it’s possible the police dog was in Berry’s patrol car for about six hours from 3 to 9 p.m.
Stancil said there could be charges made against the officer for animal cruelty if investigators determine there was intentional neglect or cruelty involved, but said it’s too early in the investigation to know.
Woodstock Police said a memorial service will be announced for Spartacus in the future, and said the handler is “devastated by the loss.”
“We are committed to the care and proper treatment of our working K-9s,” said Woodstock Police spokesperson Brittany Duncan. “We are mourning the loss of one of our own.”
Berry has handled police dogs for nine years and his first police dog, who is retired, now lives with his family. Spartacus was a Belgian Malinois and worked in narcotics detection, tracking, and apprehension.
The investigation is expected to be wrapped up later this week, Stancil said.