A Long Beach, Calif., police officer found his K9 partner Ozzy dead inside a hot patrol vehicle at 3:40 p.m. Aug. 14, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Long Beach police revealed the dog’s death Friday on Twitter, announcing that Ozzy and his handler were off-duty at the time the dog died inside a department-issued vehicle.
Police wrote they were “extremely saddened” about Ozzy’s death and said an investigation has been opened.
“A local veterinarian examined Ozzy and the preliminary results determined the cause of death to be heat related,” said police spokesperson Shaunna Dandoy, the Long Beach Post reported.
Mid-afternoon temperatures in Long Beach on Aug. 14 reached 84 degrees, the Los Angeles Times reported, although police did not say where Ozzy died.
Police said in a statement that the dog’s death was “not intentional,” calling it an accident, KTLA reported. A heat alert system in the vehicle may have malfunctioned, police said.
Long Beach K9 officers are now checking the alert systems in their vehicles before each shift, according to the station.
Ozzy, a 6-year-old Belgian Malinois and German shepherd mix, worked in the department’s drug investigations unit, reported the Long Beach Signal Tribune in an October profile.
Trained to sniff out drugs, Ozzy and another K9 in the unit were credited with finding more than $25 million in illegal drugs over their careers, according to the publication.
“We ask that you respect the handler and his family,” said Long Beach police public information officer Arantxa Chavarria, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“Our department is mourning Ozzy’s loss as we would with any of our employees,” Chavarria said, according to the publication. “Our K-9s are an indispensable part of our department, and we will continue to view them as partners.”