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DOC releases investigative report on K-9's death

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PHOENIX - An Arizona Department of Corrections officer could be facing charges in the death of his K-9 partner, "Ike."

Ike died last month after he was left locked inside a hot sport utility vehicle for several hours.

The results of the investigation into Ike's death were released Friday.  In this report, Ike's handler, Officer Jesse Durantes, says it was an accident. He forgot the dog was in the back of the SUV when he parked it at the prison, then went home for the day.

Now he could face time behind bars for the tragic mistake.

"We were immediately called in to do a criminal investigation," said Doug Nick with the Arizona Department of Corrections.

The results of that investigation could land Durantes in jail on animal cruelty charges.

The day Ike died, Durantes left work early to take care of his sick child and said he had a lot on his mind.

According to the report, Durantes put Ike in the back of the SUV and forgot he was there.  Durantes then parked the SUV at a prison lot and went home in his private car.

Ike had been in the back of the SUV for seven hours, before another officer discovered him -- dead.

The outside temperature that day was 98 degrees.  An autopsy revealed Ike's internal temperature was 110 degrees and that he died of organ failure.

Durantes had been Ike's handler for four years and after he found out his K-9 partner had died, he started crying, saying it was a mistake, that he just forgot about Ike.

"These canines are very important animals to the operation of our department," said Nick.  "Officers bond with these animals.  As you can imagine, when something like this occurs, it's a tragic situation."

The investigation concluded that Durantes was "reckless" in this situation.

Durantes says he is very remorseful about what happened and takes full responsibility.  Whether or not he will be charged with animal cruelty is now up to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.
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