Department of Corrections: K-9 died after being left in vehicle for 7 hours

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- An Arizona Department of Corrections service dog that died last month had been left in its handler's vehicle for approximately seven hours, according to an investigative report.

Ike was found dead April 9 in the back of Jesse Dorantes' assigned SUV, which was left parked and unattended at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Lewis in Buckeye after he left work early to be with his sick child.

Dorantes left Ike in the back of the SUV while cleaning out his kennel but forgot the Belgian Malinois was in there when he went home in his personal vehicle, according to the department's criminal investigative report.

Later that day, Dorantes contacted a sergeant and asked him to check on Ike to see if he was safe and to make sure he had put the dog back into his kennel. The sergeant found the K-9 dead in the locked cage inside the SUV. The vehicle's windows were rolled up and there was no food or water.

The 7-year-old dog was inside the SUV from 6:45 a.m. to 1:50 p.m. during which time the outside temperature reached approximately 98 degrees, according to the report.

Dorantes told investigators that it was a mistake and that he had forgotten about Ike.

"Clearly the officer is very remorseful about this terrible situation," said Department of Corrections spokesman Doug Nick. "When something like this occurs, it's just a reminder to everybody, tragically so, that you need to be very mindful of what your job is."

A necropsy determined that the cause of death was cardiac, pulmonary and major organ failures caused by hyperthermia (elevated body temperature).

Dorantes had been Ike's handler for the past four years.

The Arizona Department of Corrections is recommending that Dorantes be charged with cruelty to animals. The investigative report has been submitted to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office for review.

Ike is not the first Arizona K-9 to be left in a handler's vehicle.

In 2007, a Chandler police sergeant forgot his K-9, Bandit, when he went to deal with family matters. The dog was left alone in excessive heat for 12 hours. The sergeant was acquitted of animal abuse charges.

A drug-sniffing K-9 died in Tucson in 2012 after he was left in his handler's squad car in the heat. Pima County officials did not pursue felony charges against the Department of Public Safety officer.