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Georgia leads nation in K9 officer hot car deaths

Dogs, as much as we love them, are not people.

The Georgia Legislature seemed to recognize this in 2015 when it watered down a bill that would have made it a second degree murder offense to intentionally kill a police dog.

But what happens when killing the dog is an accident?

K9 officers Baston, Spartacus, Zane and Inca all died in hot police cars.

If you are a police officer, not much.

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Since 2013, five Georgia K9 officers have been killed , according to the Officer Down website. Four died inside hot police vehicles.

Tanja, 2, a Walker County K9 officer, was killed by gunfire while pursuing a suspect in 2014 near Lookout Mountain.

Tanja's death spurred state Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga) to write the bill that increased penalties for harming a police dog. Current Georgia law makes it a felony punishable by up to five years in prison to intentionally kill a K9 officer. The law also requires the person who harmed the dog to pay restitution for veterinary care and/or the cost of replacing the animal.

How much does it cost to replace a K9 officer? About $25,000 it seems from my online research.

In 2015, 27 K9 officers were killed nationwide, according to the Officer Down website . Twelve died from heat exhaustion, four by gunfire.

Since 2013, Georgia leads the nation in K9 officer hot car deaths . Of the 82 K9 death reported on the Officer Down website since 2013, 19 are from heat exhaustion. Four of those deaths are in Georgia, three in Texas, two in Florida and Maryland. Nine other states reported one heat exhaustion death.

Should police officers be charged with a crime for making a mistake?

Should parents?

Soon, the good people of Glynn County will soon be asking the question we've all pondered -- is it possible to forget you've left your child in a car on a hot day?

The murder trial of Justin Ross Harris, who left 22-month-old Cooper Harris in the back seat of his car, begins anew Sept. 12 in Brunswick .

Many parents I've spoken to say they find it hard to believe the boy's death was an accident.

Others say mistakes -- even ones as horrible as a hot car death -- can happen. At least four former Georgia K9 police officers probably agree.





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