Woodstock officer removed from K-9 program after dog’s death

A Woodstock police officer whose canine partner died after being left in a patrol car will no longer work with the department’s dogs.

Officer Chad Berry also is being suspended without pay for 10 days and fined $325 for leaving Spartacus, a 3-year old Belgian Malinois, inside his patrol car the night of June 18, Woodstock Police Sgt. Randy Milligan said late Friday.

In addition, Berry has been re-assigned to the department’s traffic unit, which drops his salary by $6,000, Milligan said.

“The tragic death of Spartacus prompted a comprehensive review of all canine policies and procedures and resulted in the inclusion of additional safeguards to better protect the health and safety of our police canines,” Milligan said in an emailed statement.

Berry, a nine-year veteran with Woodstock police, had been a canine handler for seven years.

After finding the lifeless dog in his patrol car parked at his house, Berry called both his supervisor and the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office, which investigated.

A necropsy requested by the Woodstock Police Department determined that Spartacus’ probable cause of death was heat stroke. There were no other indications of injury, maltreatment, or abuse, and Spartacus was in good health at his annual checkup in February.

“Both investigations reveal that, although there was no intent to cause harm to K-9 Spartacus, Officer Berry left Spartacus in his assigned patrol vehicle upon getting home from work and attending to his children,” Milligan said. “The delay in removing Spartacus from the vehicle resulted in the canine’s death.”

The Pickens County Sheriff’s Office cited Berry for violating the county’s cruelty to animals ordinance. Berry has paid the $325 fine.