Police in Hialeah, Florida, are investigating the death of two K-9 work dogs found Wednesday inside a marked police vehicle parked outside an off-duty officer’s home.
Hialeah police said K-9 Officer Nelson Enriquez arrived at his home in Davie early Wednesday after completing his midnight shift and apparently left the dogs inside his vehicle for several hours, a local ABC affiliate reported.
Hialeah’s temperatures reached a high of 86 that day.
Officer Enriquez found the dogs — Jimmy, a 7-year-old bloodhound, and Hector, a 4-year-old Belgium Malinois — dead inside his vehicle about 7 p.m. and immediately notified police, investigators said.
The Davie Police Department is leading the investigation. Hialeah police are also conducting a complete and concurrent internal investigation, ABC reported.
Officer Enriquez is a 13-year veteran of the Hialeah Police Department and has been a K-9 handler for seven years. He was relieved of duty pending the outcome of the investigation, ABC reported.
“The Hialeah Police Department is extremely saddened by this unfortunate occurrence and every effort will be made to determine the cause of this terrible tragedy, which claimed the lives of two very beloved members of our Hialeah police family,” said Hialeah police spokesman Carl Zogby. “This is still an open and active investigation and we must wait for the outcome from the Davie police and the Broward [County] state attorney’s office.”
The local community appears to be rallying behind Officer Enriquez, as his future at the department remains uncertain.
The Sun-Sentinel’s Daniel Vasquez penned his support for the officer, arguing that K-9 officers are specially-trained and take care of their canine companions “as if their own lives depended on it.”
“Enriquez is a 13-year veteran. He has served with K-9s for seven years. You have to believe he has been a top officer to have been given custody of two police dogs. You have to believe all of this was just a horrible accident,” Mr. Vasquez wrote. “Now the dogs are gone. Now Enriquez’s career is at stake. And whether he is found culpable in some way or not, this South Florida officer is already facing the worst punishment, all of it self-inflicted.”