Des Moines police dog dies inside officer's patrol vehicle

11:14 PM, Aug 31, 2012   |    comments
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Des Moines K9 Officer Harley, a Labrador retriever, died Wednesday afternoon when temperatures soared to nearly 100 degrees.


DES MOINES, Iowa (KCCI) - Authorities say the brutal heat is suspected in the death of a Des Moines police dog found dead inside a patrol vehicle.

K9 Officer Harley, a Labrador retriever, died Wednesday afternoon when temperatures soared to nearly 100 degrees.

Harley spent seven years delivering smiles and results.

"His investigations have taken a lot of drugs off the streets," said Des Moines Police Department Sgt. Chris Scott. "Harley was not a stranger to anybody down here. We lost a fellow officer who just happened to be a dog."

The K9 was working with his partner, Officer Brian Mathis, a veteran member of the Vice and Narcotics Control Section.

"All I know is that (Mathis) had been involved in a case that day, and when he returned to his car, he found Harley in the car and Harley was dead," Scott said.

It's not yet clear why or how long Harley was left inside the police vehicle, nor is it known if the air conditioner was on or the windows rolled down.

Investigators said they suspect oppressive heat is to blame for the animal's death.

"Officer Mathis, not only did he work with this dog, but he took this dog home. They were together 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Scott said. "During the day, it was a work partner. At night, it was a family member."

Scott said the dog's death is a tragedy that will be investigated.

"What can we do to ensure this doesn't happen again?" Scott said.

Des Moines police officers said that while Harley was the only K9 officer assigned specifically to the narcotics team, he was not the only animal capable of performing drug-related duties.

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