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Posted over 6 years ago
Lovejoy demos new device to prevent K-9 deaths
A Chandler police K-9 sergeant, removed from the unit by the department for leaving his dog in a hot patrol car where it died, is taking steps to make sure the tragedy never happens again.
Shortly after his lawyer filed a motion in court to set a trial date, Sgt. Tom Lovejoy used his former police K-9 SUV and new dog he bought in hopes of remaining on the K-9 unit to demonstrate on Wednesday morning a device that would keep a car running while a dog is inside.
"As police officers, we're problem solvers," Lovejoy said. "I want to make sure this never happens again."
Lovejoy was arrested Sept. 5 by Maricopa County Sheriff's Office deputies on suspicion of reckless animal abuse after he left Bandit, a 5-year-old Belgian Malinois dog, in his patrol car on Aug. 11 for more than 12 hours, deputies said.
Chandler police Chief Sherry Kiyler said Friday the department decided to remove Lovejoy, who was Chandler's K-9 unit supervisor at the time, from the police dog unit and suspend him for two days without pay.
Lovejoy demonstrated Wednesday how the Ocu-Alert device works.
A mat covers the floor in the kennel area of the K-9 vehicle and is connected to the vehicle's ignition, Lovejoy said. While the dog is on the mat, the car stays on, even if the car key is removed from the ignition.
Lovejoy demonstrated a prototype, which he had been working to develop with Blue Force Dynamics since Bandit died and before police disciplinary action, he said.
For the demo, he used his former police K-9 SUV and a new Belgian Malinois dog, Beth, he bought during the ordeal, in hopes of remaining a K-9 officer.
Lovejoy said it was bittersweet.
"I started this before to help other K-9 officers," Lovejoy said. "I felt I was obligated to finish it. It's going to help them not to have a tragedy."
Now that Lovejoy has been removed from the K-9 unit, he said he plans on keeping the 4 ½-year-old dog as a family pet.
Lovejoy said he and the designers of the device don't know when it will be available for purchase but they are working to make it available as soon as possible.