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Police dog found dead inside handler's patrol car

File - REUTERS

File - REUTERS

WOODSTOCK, Ga. -- A 3-year-old police dog died from a heat stroke after being left in his handler's patrol car, Woodstock police said Tuesday.

Spartacus, a Belgian Malinois, was found dead inside the patrol car around 9 p.m. Monday at the officer's Pickens County home, according to Brittany Duncan, Woodstock police spokeswoman.

Spartacus, a certified multi-purpose dog, performed narcotics detection, tracking, and apprehension for the department, Duncan said.

A necropsy determined the dog's cause of death, Duncan said.

The animal's handler, whose name was not released, is a 9-year veteran of the department and has been a "K-9" handler for seven years, Duncan said.

"After the retirement of his first police K-9, who is now a family pet living with the K-9 handler, the handler is devastated by the loss of his second police K-9," Duncan said in an emailed press release.

The officer has been placed on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of an internal investigation, Duncan said.

The Pickens County Sheriff's Office, which responded to the officer's home Monday night, is also investigating the dog's death, Sheriff Donnie Grigg told the AJC. Specific details about the investigation were not released, a spokesman for the sheriff's office said.

A memorial service for Spartacus will be held at a later date.

In an unrelated case, a South Georgia police officer resigned in September after leaving his canine partner "Sasha" in his patrol vehicle for three days.