Hialeah Cop: Two Dogs Left In Hot Police Cruiser Die After Officer’s ‘Long’ Work Shift, Memorial Planned

Days after a Hialeah cop found two of his dogs dead in his police cruiser, a community is mourning, and dual investigations are underway. Officer Nelson Enriquez is on leave for the hot car deaths of the K-9s. Meanwhile, the Hialeah Police Department is planning a memorial for the cop’s fallen partners, according to a Sun Sentinel news report.

Enriquez has been a cop for 13 years, seven of which have been spent with the Hialeah Police Department’s K-9 Unit. Reportedly, he returned to his Davie, Florida, home Wednesday morning after a longer than usual shift. A spokesperson said he had been on a search for a missing person.

Upon arrival at his home, the Hialeah cop entered the residence without his two dogs, Jimmy, a 9-year-old bloodhound and Hector, a 4-year-old Belgian Malinois. The dogs remained unattended in the back cabin of Enriquez’s department-issued Ford Explorer SUV with the windows up and the engine off. Hours later, the officer found the two animals dead.

According to Hialeah Police Sgt. Carl Zogby, the animals likely died from heat exposure. Temperatures soared to the high 80s on the day the dogs perished in the hot vehicle. Technology in the cruiser, referred to as a “fail-safe safety mechanism,” is designed to prevent dogs and people from suffering heat exhaustion. If temperatures rose too high, a fan would be activated, windows would automatically roll down, and audible alarms would be activated — only if the engine is running. Allegedly, the ignition was off at the time.

“Unfortunately these systems are made for a vehicle that is running for a K-9 officer that is on duty. We know of nothing that could have forewarned the officer of this situation once the vehicle is turned off. That is our take on it so far.”

It’s unclear what occurred between the time — some nine hours — that the Hialeah officer went inside his home after his midnight shift and reported the deaths of the two dogs. Sources say the officer called his department first before notifying Davie Police.

The man’s wife and two children, who adored the dogs, were not home at the time the K-9s were left in the sweltering vehicle. In keeping with department protocol, Hialeah officials suspended the cop with pay while the incident is investigated, according to Zogby.

“We will wait for the complete outcome of the investigation to see if there is any discipline applicable in this case, perhaps any internal policy violations or anything of that sort. This is definitely an unfortunate incident that should not have happened.”

Meanwhile, fellow officers are showing support for the veteran cop who has a history in good standing. The bloodhound dog was donated to the Hialeah K-9 division by Don and Claudine Ryce, whose son, Jimmy, 9, was kidnapped and murdered 20 years ago as he walked from a school bus to his home in Miami-Dade. The little boy’s parents founded the Jimmy Ryce Center in the wake of his death to donate bloodhounds to cops. The center plans to replace the fallen animals and a memorial will be erected in the dogs’ honor.

[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]

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