EDMOND, Okla. — Police are investigating the possibility that a faulty vehicle air conditioner caused the death of a beloved Edmond K-9 officer.
“It is with great sadness that we must report the death of one of our beloved K-9 dogs, Justice,” said Edmond Police Department spokeswoman Jenny Monroe.
Monday afternoon, Justice’s handler found him lethargic in the back of the handler’s squad car, Monroe said. He was rushed to the vet where he later died, Monroe said.
It appears Justice overheated, Monroe said.
Officers were inspecting the vehicle’s air conditioner unit to help determine what contributed to the cause of his death, Monroe said. The vehicle was running with the AC left on during the time Justice was in the vehicle.
Justice was primarily used as a single purpose, non-aggressive dog within the Edmond Public Schools to detect illegal narcotics, Monroe said.
In September 2010, The Edmond Sun reported the story of how Justice came to the Edmond Police Department from the city’s Animal Welfare Center. He was a stray black Labrador brought into the shelter. A police officer told Edmond Animal Welfare Officer Michael Reynolds the Police Department was looking for a suitable dog for its K-9 division.
One day, Reynolds was in the shelter, looking among the dogs for a candidate, a dog possessing a lot of energy and drive. He came to a group of three labs. One of them, the black Labrador, was different.
“There was just something about him, his actions,” Reynolds said. “He acted like he was bored and wanted to go out and play.”
Reynolds gave Edmond’s K-9 division a call and the dog, who would be named Justice, began a new life, a journey toward becoming a police dog. Justice was paired with School Resource Officer Dack Pearson, who said man and dog went through an initial pre-training bonding period that included a lot of playtime.
Justice was certified by the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics to find marijuana, cocaine, meth and heroin. Several times due to his ability to find drugs Justice made headlines.