COBB COUNTY, Ga. — Cobb County Police said Tuesday they are investigating after a K-9 officer died inside a hot patrol vehicle when the air conditioning malfunctioned.
The Cobb County Police Department said the death occurred on Monday afternoon as officers were participating in an active shooter training at Allatoona High School.
The five-year-old service animal, K-9 Chase, was found unresponsive in the patrol vehicle by his handler officer, K-9 Officer Neill. According to the department, the training began at 11 a.m.
"The officers have a 45-minute course in a 15-minute break. So this actually Officer Neill, who is the K-9 handler for K-9 Chase, had actually just checked on Chase during the previous break. The AC was running just fine, cars working properly. And he went back in for the next session," Sergeant Wayne Delk with the Cobb County Police Department said.
Delk said Officer Neill returned after the next break to check on Chase in his kennel.
At some point after one of the checks, the department said, "the air conditioning system malfunctioned" in the patrol vehicle and "other safety systems did not properly activate and the temperature quickly rose in the vehicle."
A Facebook post said life-saving measures were started by Cobb officers and county fire personnel, who were also at the active shooter training.
"K-9 Chase was then transported to a nearby emergency veterinarian clinic," the post said. "But the efforts were not enough to save him, and he succumbed to his heat-related injuries."
"This is a horrible incident and our investigators are continuing to gather information regarding the vehicle system failures that led to this tragedy. K-9 Chase is currently at Cobb County Animal Shelter and will be transported to the University of Georgia for a necropsy later today," Cobb Police said.
K-9 Chase, a Belgian malinois from Hungary, was born in August 2018 and named for a Locust Grove Police Department officer, Chase Maddox, who died in the line of duty that year.
He joined the Cobb County Police Department in April 2020.
Chase was described as a "dual-purpose" service animal who was trained for "narcotics detection, criminal apprehension, tracking, building searches, and evidence recovery."
They said he had "seized thousands of dollars worth of illegal narcotics, with numerous arrests and apprehensions."
"K-9 Chase was a beloved officer of the Cobb County Police Department and will forever be missed by us all," the Facebook post said.
"They will be taking a closer look at this particular vehicle. And also I... can pretty much guarantee any time we have something like this happen... this is going to possibly affect the way that the other vehicles are actually maintained," Delk said.