A central Iowa K-9 officer died sometime on September 2, and now the county attorney must decide if charges will be filed against his handler.

"Bear" worked for the Boone County Sheriff's Office in central Iowa and was with his handler on the night of Thursday, September 1. KIMT reports that Sergeant Dallas Wingate put Bear inside his truck at around 10 p.m. that night when he was barking at a deer.

It wasn't until the next night (September 2) at around 8 p.m., some 22 hours later, that Wingate noticed Bear wasn't with his other dogs when he fed them. That's when he found the dog deceased inside his vehicle. According to Weather Underground, the high temperature in Ames, just to the east of Boone County, was 89 degrees that day. That temperature would've likely caused the temperature inside the truck to be more than 120 degrees during the day.

After informing the Boone County Sheriff of Bear's death on the night of September 2, Wingate was placed on administrative leave. He resigned from his position on September 8. According to KCII, he had worked for the Boone County Sheriff's Office for approximately 15 years.

An autopsy on Bear was performed by Iowa State University and an investigation by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and Story County Attorney Tim Meals is now complete. Meals must now decide if Wingate will be charged in Bear's death.

I spoke to Assistant Linn County Attorney Jennifer Erger about possible charges in a case like this. She told me that if authorities determined that Bear died due to excessive heat inside the vehicle, Wingate could be charged with animal neglect and/or animal abuse. She also said that when the case involves a police service dog, Iowa Code 717B.2 Section 5 would allow the charge to be increased to a Class D felony. 

Rest in peace, Bear, and thank you for your service.

Boone County Sheriff's Office
Boone County Sheriff's Office

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