Officer Arrested for Police Dog’s Hot-Car Death

     MCALLEN, Texas (CN) — A South Texas police officer was arrested and charged with animal cruelty after he left his K-9 partner locked in his hot patrol car and the dog died.
     McAllen Police said they found Rex the K-9, a Belgian Malinois trained in SWAT operations, unresponsive Thursday afternoon after responding to a call from Officer Juan Luis Cerrillo Jr., a three-year veteran of the neighboring San Juan Police Department.
     Cerrillo, 37, reportedly forgot to remove his K-9 from his patrol unit after returning home from work.
     He was booked into the Hidalgo County Jail on Saturday morning and released on a $4,000 bond the same day, according to jail records.
     Rex the K-9 was also a three-year veteran of the department and was assigned to the SWAT special assignment unit.
     San Juan Police Chief Juan Gonzalez told the McAllen Monitor that there “are no excuses” for the tragic loss of Rex.
     “Officers are responsible for their dogs 24/7,” the chief said.
     Cerrillo was suspended without pay pending an internal review of the incident and the criminal investigation, which includes a necropsy, or animal autopsy.
     He was charged with cruelty to non-livestock animals, a Class A misdemeanor.
     If convicted, Cerrillo could face up to a year in county jail and a $4,000 fine, according to local news reports. Conviction would also disqualify him from holding a peace officer’s license in Texas.
     Similar dog breeds trained for police departments are sold for upwards of $6,000, plus training and upkeep.
     The Human Society warns that pet owners should never leave animals in parked cars, not even for a minute.
     The temperature in McAllen last week reached 93 degrees.

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