Two Hialeah police dogs died Wednesday when their handler apparently left them in his vehicle after returning to his Davie home from work, according to authorities.
The police K-9 dogs were identified as Jimmy, a 7-year-old bloodhound, and Hector, a 4-year-old Belgian Malinois.
Hialeah officer Nelson Enriquez, a 13-year veteran of the force, was relieved of duty while the investigation proceeds.
Enriquez arrived home early Wednesday after his midnight shift. When he discovered the dead dogs in the evening, he called Davie police, said Hialeah police spokesman Carl Zogby.
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“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,” Zogby said.
A preliminary investigation determined that Enriquez left the dogs in his marked police vehicle parked in his home driveway, Zogby said.
Davie police Sgt. Pablo Castaneda said his department got a call Wednesday night from the home and found the two dogs.
Jimmy, the bloodhound, was donated to the Hialeah Police Department by the Jimmy Ryce Center for Victims of Predatory Abduction seven years ago.
"I am deeply saddened to learn of the tragic death of two remarkable police dogs,” said Don Ryce, whose son, murdered in 1995 in South Miami-Dade, is the namesake of the foundation.
The police SUV was towed from the driveway. Davie police are leading the investigation while Hialeah will conduct an internal inquiry.
Enriquez has been a K-9 handler for seven years.
Police officers in Miami-Dade have been arrested in the past for the unnatural deaths of their K-9 partners.
In March 2008, Miami Police Officer Rondal Brown was arrested for animal cruelty after the starvation death of his department bloodhound, Dynasty. The dog — which also was donated to the department by the Jimmy Ryce Foundation — was discovered starved with “an emaciated, wasted corpse.”
Brown later left police work and agreed to serve probation.
In 2007, Miami-Dade Police Sgt. Allen Cockfield was charged with animal cruelty after prosecutors said he fatally kicked his German shepherd, Duke, during a training session.
A Miami-Dade jury later acquitted Cockfield at trial.