Long Beach police are investigating the death of a police dog who was found alone inside a department-issued vehicle and whose death may have involved malfunctioning equipment, it was reported Friday.
“The #LBPD is extremely saddened to announce the death of K-9 Ozzy,” The Long Beach Police Department tweeted Friday. “At the time, Ozzy & his handler were both off-duty and Ozzy was inside the officer’s department issued K-9 vehicle. The death was immediately reported to the LBPD and a review into the circumstances was initiated.”
Ozzy was found dead by his handler about 3:40 p.m. on Aug. 14, LBPD spokeswoman Shaunna Dandoy told the Long Beach Post.
“A local veterinarian examined Ozzy and the preliminary results determined the cause of death to be heat-related,” she said. “All circumstances surrounding the death, including possible equipment or mechanical failures, are being reviewed.”
Police believe the death was accidental.
According to the Post, Ozzy was in a department-issued vehicle equipped for K-9 officers, and part of that special equipment is a cooling system that is not supposed to shut off unless it is manually disabled. In addition, handlers have apps on their phones that are supposed to alert them if their cars get too hot, according to an LBPD spokesperson.
“At this time, we believe this alert may not have been working,” police said.
While police try to figure out exactly what happened, K-9 handlers have been told to make sure the cooling systems in their cars are working before every shift, according to the department.
Ozzy, who was part Belgian Malinois and part German Shepherd, worked in drug investigations, according to an article in the Signal Tribune last year. Ozzy had been on the force more than five years, according to the article.
In a statement, police asked for respect for Ozzy’s handler and his family.
“Our department is mourning Ozzy’s loss as we would with any of our employees, our K-9s are an indispensable part of our department, and we will continue to view them as partners,” the statement said in part.
Ozzy is not the only LBPD K-9 to die suddenly in the last few years. In 2016, the K-9 Credo was killed by friendly fire while officers were trying to detain a knife-wielding man named Barry Prak, who was also killed by the gunfire, according to authorities.