Activists urge DOC to train officers on dangers of animal neglect

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

PHOENIX -- A petition drive is underway in response to the death of a K-9 at the Lewis Prison in Buckeye.

Ike was left locked in his cage in the back of an SUV for hours.

The dog's handler, Officer Jesse Dorantes, said he forgot about the dog when he had to leave work to be with his sick child on April 9. He left in his personal vehicle. Seven hours later he remembered Ike and called to check on him, but it was too late to save the animal.

The 7-year-old Belgian Malinois 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 an investigative report. The vehicle's windows were rolled up and Ike had no food or water.

Organizers of the petition drive say there is no excuse. Animal rights advocates are urging the Arizona Department of Corrections to implement anti-animal cruelty measures in officer training programs.

"We have had too many law enforcement officers 'forget' about their K9 partners in their cars and the result is death for these valuable members of our police forces," wrote Barbara Siewart, Care2 petition author and Arizona resident. "The officers need to be charged and prosecuted for their cruelty."

The DOC has recommended that Dorantes be charged with animal cruelty but had no comment Friday on the petition drive.

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.

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

Arizona prison department investigates K-9's death