By Yolanda Rodriguez
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Related: Ariz. officer arrested in death of K9 partner
ACWORTH, Ga. — Acworth police are mourning one of their own: a narcotics detection dog who died of heatstroke in a patrol car late Monday.
Capt. Wayne Dennard, a spokesman for the Acworth police department, said the dog's handler was "just torn up" about the death.
Marco, a 6-year-old Belgian malinois, was trained to track and detect narcotics. His nose could sniff out anything that had been near drugs.
In his five years with the department, Marco had found thousands of dollars' worth of drugs, Dennard said.
In one case, about two years ago, Marco found a "cookie," uncut crack cocaine, and $34,000 in cash.
It was the second police dog the officer had worked with. The first one retired, became the officer's household pet and died of old age, Dennard said.
Dennard declined to give the officer's name while police investigate the incident. The officer was placed on paid administrative leave.
Dennard said Marco's handler, a 13-year veteran of the department, was switching out electronics equipment from one patrol car into another when he was called into police headquarters. The officer forgot the dog was in the car, Dennard said. He did not know how long Marco was left alone.
When the officer came back to the cruiser, Marco was dead.
Temperatures late Monday afternoon in northern Cobb County were in high 80s to the low 90s.
Marco was a hit whenever he made public appearances.
Marco "was our pride and joy," said Dennard. "Everyone knew him."
During public demonstrations, an officer in a "bite suit" would show Marco in action. Children especially enjoyed the dog.
"Two minutes after a demonstration, the kids can come over and pet the dog," Dennard said.
Marco loved his job.
And after all that work, a police dog "just wants to be a normal dog. He wants to play," Dennard said.
The department began receiving consoling e-mails Thursday.
In Arizona, a Chandler police sergeant was arrested Wednesday on a misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty. Sheriff's officials there said the Sgt. Tom Lovejoy left his dog, also a Belgian malinois, in his patrol car for more than 12 hours.
Copyright 2007 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Ga. K9 dies after being left in hot squad car