A Des Moines police dog died this week after its handler left the yellow lab in his squad car. It’s believed the dog, named Harley, died from heat stress, although the case remains under investigation and it’s unknown how long the dog was in the car.
Des Moines Police spokesperson Sergeant Chris Scott says the dog’s handler, Officer Brian Mathis, had been partnered with Harley for seven years. “Nobody hurts more than Officer Mathis does right now,” Scott said.
“He not only lost a partner, he lost a family member. He is very hurt and frustrated and so is his family.” Mathis, who took Harley home with him every night, was involved in a vice investigation Wednesday and returned to his car to find the dog dead inside.
Sergeant Scott says Des Moines Police recognize people are upset about the incident and are posting their frustrations online.
“I know we’re not going to win with the public. We realize that, but we’re not going to hide behind closed doors either. They need to realize…this is what’s going on down here,” Scott said.
For now, no charges are pending in the case. This marks the first on-duty death of a dog with the Des Moines Police Department. The department has eight other dogs. Harley was the only dog with the department specifically assigned to the vice and narcotics unit.