Officials: Cherokee County Schools Police K-9 died of heat stroke

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A necropsy performed on a Cherokee County School District Police K-9 by the University of Georgia finds that the dog’s death was a result of heat stroke.

The K-9 was accidentially left in a car for several hours Friday, according to with the Cherokee County Marshal's Office. Investigators said Lt. Daniel Peabody, a 16-year veteran with the department, was caring for Inca at the time of the dog’s death.

Inca, a four-year-old Belgian Malinois, was owned and raised by Peabody since she was a puppy.

"Lt. Peabody was very distraught, very despondent," said Chief Ron Hunton with the Cherokee County Marshal's Office, who is handling the investigation.

Chief Hunton said the officer had left his dog inside the car from sometime around 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday afternoon. He had arrived back home in a regular patrol car, and turned his car off. Investigators said he proceeded to help his wife with another dog inside the home, and then forgot about Inka inside the vehicle.

Chief Hunton said the officer was hyperventilating and so distraught, he was taken to the hospital out of concern for his well-being.

Peabody typically has a vehicle equipped for a K-9, but had switched out of his unit to work in a standard patrol car Friday.

The Cherokee County School District said in a statement that Inka was beloved by school children, and served as a narcotics K-9. It said Peabody had been reassigned to administrative duties and will no longer work with K-9s.

The district will also review the K-9 unit's practices, the statement said.

No criminal charges have been filed against Peabody, but Hunton said similar cases where an owner leaves a dog in a hot vehicle result in animal cruelty charges.

Investigators said Peabody continues to be cooperative in the investigation.