Miami K-9 may have been starved to death



MIAMI — Investigators believe Dynasty, a Miami police bloodhound who specialized in tracking down missing persons, died of starvation, The Miami Herald has learned.

The dog's partner, Officer Rondal Brown, 48, a decorated veteran police officer, has been relieved of duty with pay as internal affairs detectives probe Dynasty's death. The police dog stayed with Brown at his home.

Brown's attorney, Bill Matthewman, said he does not accept starvation as Dynasty's cause of death.

"I know for certain that Ron would never intentionally starve a dog. That's just absolutely out of the question," Matthewman said.

The case is being probed by Miami's internal affairs unit and the Miami-Dade state attorney's office. Police and prosecutors declined to comment on the ongoing criminal probe.

The investigation has sent shock waves through the department, where Brown remains a popular figure.

"Shocked is probably the best way to describe the fact there might be a problem. He's always been a wonderful guy every time I've dealt with him," said Detective Delrish Moss, a police spokesman.

Brown was hired in 1987 and has spent most of his two decades working with police dogs. He is married to Florence Edwards Brown, a Broward County sheriff's deputy.

His personnel file, made public on Wednesday, is squeaky clean -- no major allegations of misconduct. He boasts more than 30 letters of commendation.

In a recent evaluation, a superior wrote:

"Officer Brown maintains a bloodhound in top condition, ready to respond to person searches for children and elderly missing persons," and "K-9 work is dirty. Officer Brown maintains a professional appearance at all times."

The police department declined to provide background on Dynasty.

Matthewman said Dynasty "was a dog Brown dearly loved."

The attorney added that Brown had recently been dealing with a heart condition and had been on light-desk duty.

Brown is the second K-9 officer in Miami-Dade County to be investigated for the death of his animal partner.

Last year, Miami-Dade Sgt. Allen Cockfield was arrested after police say he fatally kicked his German shepherd, Duke. Cockfield pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial on charges of animal cruelty and killing a police dog, a third-degree felony.

Two such investigations -- in the same county within one year -- is rare in police K-9 circles, said Harold Bennett, president of the North American Police Work Dog Association.

"You don't see that too often. Usually there is a bond between the dog and the handler," Bennett said.

Copyright 2008 The Miami Herald
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