SAN ANTONIO -- Bexar County Sheriff Amadeo Ortiz has taken full responsibility for the death of a pair of K-9 officers and announced new measures put in place to protect law enforcement dogs.
In a news conference on Monday, Ortiz called the July 26 deaths of Vegas and Hades a tragic accident.
The sheriff's office had said the pair died from apparent heat exposure after being left in Deputy Steve Benoy's vehicle overnight. Benoy was placed on administrative leave.
The sheriff said the deputy had a routine, but that it was broken that day when Deputy Benoy discovered his horse was injured.
Ortiz said the officer went to the aid of the animal, which had a leg tangled in barbed wire.
“I can’t put it in any other terms than he simply forgot to get the dogs out of the Tahoe and place them in the kennels,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz then announced the canine unit has been suspended indefinitely from working during the heat of the day until officers get more training and their Chevrolet Tahoes are outfitted with brand new heat sensors.
“The latest technology will have the remote start feature. It will start the vehicle. It will turn on the A/C as well as activate the lights and sirens. And then it will place phone calls to 4 different telephone numbers,” said Ortiz.
He admitted that his department had purchased two heat sensors for the K-9 unit back in 2010, but that they were never installed in any of the vehicles.
Ortiz told reporters he doubted the sensors would've alerted anyone to the plight of the dogs, since Benoy lived in a remote area.
Nevertheless, Ortiz said two new Tahoes are being outfitted with sensors in Houston right now.
The sheriff also announced a shakeup of his whole command structure, basically playing musical chairs with his deputy chiefs and putting a fresh commander in charge of the patrol division, where the K-9 unit is stationed.
“We’re doing a complete review of all our policies and procedures," said Ortiz.