A police dog left in a hot car died after enduring insufferable heat. Drug-sniffing canine “Nyx” died in July after she was trapped inside a patrol car parked outside the Mill Police Station in Wyoming without any relief from the scorching temperatures. On Friday, Mills Police Department Officer Zachary Miller entered his plea. MSN reports that court documents reveal Miller left Nyx in the vehicle with the windows rolled up.
If Officer Miller is convicted, he could get up to six months in jail and pay a $750 fine.
Casper Star Tribune covers the case in detail. Apparently the patrol car was running, but the air conditioning wasn’t on.
“It’s not normal to leave a car running that long,” says Mills Police Chief Bryon Preciado. “I’m not justifying it. He shouldn’t have been here that long.”
Preciado does say that no policy on the “time frame for leaving police dogs in patrol cars.” The 10-year-old labrador dog was left inside the hot car for five hours, between 5:20 am to about 12:20 pm. The temperatures had gone from 53-degrees to 86 by then. Officer Miller had returned with another officer, Jake Bigelow. Miller was at the station training Bigelow on patrol-duty procedures. Miller is no longer a training officer, the report reveals.
“If he violated the law then he should be held accountable just like anybody else,” Preciado says.
An investigation has been conducted in this incident, but results aren’t released by the police department. Officer Miller will remain employed by the department, but he’s currently on paternal leave. He was suspended with pay, which began the first day of Nyx’s death.
Chief Preciado explains that Miller will face consequences within the police department.:
“It was a mistake he’s going to have to pay for. He’s going to be disciplined through our department.”
Officer Bigelow isn’t facing any disciplinary action for the dog’s death. It’s also noted that Miller has never faced punishment before in the department. He’s described as “pro-active” and was awarded “Officer of the Year” by the department in 2013.
Nyx joined the police department in 2006 and was the only canine they had. She had been living with Miller and his family the last two years. She assisted with other law enforcement organizations around Casper.
A plaque or memorial tribute will be created for Nyx at the police department. Her body was buried on Miller’s property, according to the report. Preciado said, “Everyone is hurt by her loss.”
Preciado assures that heat alarms will be placed inside K-9 patrol vehicles to avoid another hot car death with a dog again. The alarm will come with a key fob that the handler must always carry. If the temperature gets too hot or cold, the alarm will alert the handler.
[Image via Casper Star Tribune]