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Georgia police dog found dead in handler's car

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WOODSTOCK, GA (CBS46) -

A Woodstock police officer has been placed on paid administrative leave after a police dog was left in his car and died.

Spartacus, a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois, was a certified multipurpose dog as he worked narcotics detection, tracking, and apprehension.

News of Spartacus' death was a surprise to residents in Woodstock, but they said what was even more surprising was that it was from heat stroke.

"I heard it on Facebook this morning, and it's really sad. I had no idea it had died in the back of a car from heat stroke. I figured it had died in the line of duty," said resident Ginger Moss.

"It's like leaving a baby in there. To a policeman that's his little baby," said resident Austin Barnes.

Two investigations were launched because of it, an internal department one, and an external criminal investigation being done by the Pickens County Sheriff's Department, because that's where the death actually happened.

There are a lot of questions to go through. What was the officer doing, how long was the dog in there, was the car running, were the windows down?

Police Chief Calvin Moss said he has the same questions, but won't know until after the investigation.

One thing the chief did talk about is what kind of loss this is.

"We rely on them very heavily, and of course it's a significant loss to the Woodstock Police Department.

But the chief said the loss of Spartacus goes well beyond the department.

"Spartacus was particularly friendly with children and was great for community organizations and events. We would go out to school events and so on, and he was very much loved by the community," said Chief Moss.

But perhaps the one affected most is the man who likely put him there in the first place, veteran handler, officer Chad Berry.

"He is utterly devastated by what's taken place here. He is of course deeply concerned," said Moss.

With that said, his grief might just be the beginning of his problems. He could not only lose his job, he could face criminal charges.

Some Woodstock residents don't have much sympathy for him, but others said they shouldn't throw the book at him.

No word on when the two investigations will be done, but the chief said it shouldn't take too long.

Meanwhile, Berry will remain on paid leave.

As for Spartacus, the plan is to have a ceremonial burial because even though he was a dog, he was still an officer of the law. So, the department plans to treat him like one.

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