For Immediate Release
Celina, OH - Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey this morning announced the death of K-9 Unit Zak. At approximately 1:00PM yesterday, Deputy Chad Fortkamp, the K-9 handler, found Zak deceased when he returned to his patrol car.
Fortkamp had been at the office to complete the reconstruction of a traffic crash. "When at the office, the car is either left running with air conditioning on or Zak comes into the building," stated Sheriff Grey, "the car was not running, and it appears that Zak was overcome by the heat."
An autopsy was performed. Zak had a pre-existing heart condition, which the Sheriff's office was aware of, that may have been aggravated by the temperature inside the car, although the Veterinarian stated that a perfectly healthy dog probably would not have survived the heat.
"I have assigned Chief Deputy Thobe to do a thorough investigation into why the dog was in the car and why the the car did not have the air conditioning running. Once that investigation is complete the results will be released. At that point, a decision will be made on whether disciplinary action against the handler is warranted. I am deeply disappointed and apologize to the members of the Moose Lodge, the Eagles of Celina and others who helped fund the K-9 program. In 2010, the Moose Lodge donated $5000 and the Eagles donated $1500 for the purchase of Zak after K-9 Bleck died of an intestinal obstruction. It is my intent to get answers as to what happened," stated Grey.
At this point, the Sheriff's Office plans to suspend the K-9 program as we have lost two dogs in the last three years.