Turbo the 22-month-old police dog died after Master Police Officer and police dog handler David Hurt of South Carolina’s Columbia Police Department left the Labrador retriever mix in a hot police car unattended for 6 hours.
According to the Associated Press, Hurt left Turbo alone in the car with the air conditioning and the windows open — but left the heat alarm in the vehicle off — while he attended active shooter training on July 26. He, like other officers with police dogs attending the same training, decided to leave his canine partner in the car because of the training’s loud sounds.
Unlike other officers with police dogs, Hurt did not regularly come back to the vehicle to check on his canine. Turbo was stuck in the car for 6 hours and was not let out even to go to the bathroom. The 94-degree heat that day ended up being too much for the dog. Hurt returned to his vehicle to find the canine foaming at the mouth and immediately took him to a veterinarian. Turbo was euthanized two days later because he was suffering from organ failure connected to the heat exposure.
In response, the Columbia Police Department has suspended Hurt for five days without pay but no criminal changes will be filed in connection with the dog’s death, even though Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook said experienced police dog handlers were shocked by Hurt’s choices.
The Associated Press reports that Holbrook said during a news conference about Turbo that Hurt “didn’t give any logical reason” for why he left the canine in the car unattended for so long.
“It was a mistake of the heart he will have to deal with the rest of his life,” Holbrook said at the same conference. Since Hurt immediately admitted it was his poor judgement that led to the dog’s death, the chief said he decided not to fire the officer.
Hurt, who went through hundreds of hours of training to become a police dog handler, is never allowed to handle a police dog again. Turbo was Hurt’s first police dog.