NEW CASTLE (KDKA) — An internal investigation is under way after a police dog died in the back of a cruiser.
Chico, a 6-year-old Dutch Shepherd, had been with the New Castle Police Department since 2009.
Sources say his current handler is Officer James Hoyland.
Chico was found unresponsive in a New Castle Police car on Saturday. He was taken to a veterinarian, but died.
Sources say he may have been left in the car for a couple of hours.
New Castle Police Chief Thomas Sansone wouldn’t comment, but others did.
“I think that’s terrible. You’ve got to take better care of them, especially a police dog too, you know,” Karen Greenawalt, of New Castle, said.
“It’s their responsibility,” Lori Williams added. “It’s just like their child. They’re in their care. They should take care of it like you’d take care of your child and I sure wouldn’t have left my child in a car.”
Officer Dave Blosser is the K-9 handler for Weathersfield, Ohio. He trained Chico and says that he was an awesome dog.
“He got a lot of people’s attention,” Blosser said. “… Unique, I mean not just because he’s our dog, but he was a truly good asset to their community and their department as well.”
It can cost $10,000 to train a police dog, though New Castle got private donations to help hire Chico.
Neither the city solicitor nor the district attorney returned calls asking if they’d conduct an independent investigation.
New Castle police will hold a memorial service for Chico at 10 a.m. Thursday at the old Ben Franklin School.
Stay with KDKA for the latest details.