K-9 left in officer's hot car at Brevard courthouse found dead, police say

Melbourne police investigate death of Sebastian police dog

MELBOURNE, Fla. – A Sebastian Police Department K-9 named Diesel was found dead Friday in a patrol officer’s car after he returned from a hearing in the Brevard County courthouse in Melbourne, officials said.

The Sebastian officer found the dog's remains in the sweltering vehicle at 7:30 p.m. near Prince Avenue and Crown Boulevard.

Brevard County Animal Services and Melbourne police were called to investigate.

The officer was not identified and it was not immediately known how long the police dog was in the car, but Melbourne police told News 6 Tuesday it was likely hours. Temperatures hovered at about 88 degrees for much of the afternoon, National Weather Service officials said.

"Certainly, a deceased K-9, it's a heartbreaking situation," Melbourne Police Lt. Cheryl Trainer told News 6 Tuesday.

John Blackledge, the commander of operations for the Sebastian Police Department, also called the incident a tragedy.

“Unfortunately and tragically, a Sebastian police K-9 was found expired Friday evening. This was unexpected,” Blackledge said in a statement. “The situation is under investigation by the Melbourne Police Department and the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Animal Services Unit because that's where the dog died. The Sebastian Police Department will conduct the appropriate administrative investigation subsequent to their independent investigation.”

Blackledge told News 6 Diesel was with the Sebastian Police Department for nearly a year.

"He was tremendously social, just a great animal," Blackledge said.

In that short time, police said Diesel was loved by his handler.

Melbourne Police said Tuesday it's unlikely any possible animal cruelty charges would be enhanced because of the dog being considered an officer, too.

"K-9 handlers have the utmost love and respect for the animals they are entrusted to care for. Sometimes these mistakes do happen. It's a very difficult investigation for everybody to go through," Trainer said.

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About the Author:

James joined News 6 in March 2016 as the Brevard County Reporter. His arrival was the realization of a three-year effort to return to the state where his career began. James is from Pittsburgh, PA and graduated from Penn State in 2009 with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.