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Chico’s handler to remain on the job

Published: Thu, July 21, 2011 @ 12:07 a.m.


Chico, a Dutch shepherd, trained to serve as a police dog by Tri-State Canine Services of Trumbull County for the city of New Castle. The dog died Saturday after being left in a cruiser for two hours in 90-degree temperatures.

By Jeanne Starmack


New Castle, pa.

A police K-9 officer whose dog died after being in an overheated car can keep his job, city council has decided.

Officer James Hoyland will continue his unpaid suspension until it totals 60 days. He has been suspended since June 6. He can never be a K-9 handler again, and he must make financial restitution for the dog before he comes back. Police Chief Tom Sansone said that restitution could total as much as $10,000, including the cost of training.

Sansone said the city police department is going to make changes, too. He’s hoping to upgrade a “hot box” system in the city’s four police cars with one that is automatic.

“You don’t have to worry about turning switches on or off,” Sansone said at the city building Wednesday evening while council was deliberating in a closed meeting about what, if anything, Hoyland’s punishment should be.

Hoyland’s dog, a 4-year-old Dutch shepherd named Chico, died June 5 after being left alone in Hoyland’s cruiser for 3 hours and 45 minutes.

Sansone said Hoyland doesn’t remember if he turned the hot box on before he left the dog in the police station parking lot to work an extra shift for the city housing authority.

Sansone said, however, that the system was not turned on because it sounds an alarm and lowers the windows if the temperature gets too high in the car. Hoyland did leave the car running and the air conditioning on. But after about two hours of idling, the air conditioning stopped working, Sansone said.

Hoyland returned from his extra shift about 8 p.m. to find Chico overcome from the heat. The dog died despite being rushed to a veterinarian.

Council heard testimony in the case behind closed doors. State law allows personnel matters to be discussed in what’s referred to as an “executive,” or closed session.

Hoyland could have requested that the hearing be open, Sansone said, but he did not.

He could have had union representation at the meeting if he’d requested an open hearing, but because he did not, a union representative wasn’t present, Sansone said.

Hoyland himself was not present.

City council members made a motion and took a vote on Hoyland’s punishment in an open session after the hearing.

Members said it was a hard decision. The vote was 3-2 in favor of the 60-day suspension. Karen DeCarlo and Edward Yerage cast the two “no” votes. They declined to say why.

Several council members said there was clearly no intent on Hoyland’s part to hurt his dog, but he was negligent.

Council President MaryAnne Gavrile told about 20 police officers who were there to support Hoyland that council “appreciates their efforts and their time.”

“We try to base our decisions on what is best for the community,” she said.

Sansone said he did not make a recommendation to council before its decision.

“I have mixed feelings,” he said. “It’s very hard. If he’d been a bad officer, it would be easy,” he said, adding that Hoyland has been a good officer.


1lilgandee(103 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Sad all the way around but I believe that he was negligent but with no malice. I am glad though he can't be a K-9 officer and the police are looking to make the "hot box " automatic. Just remember that the car stalled after 2 hours, meaning it only took 1 3/4 hour before he was succumbing to the heat. Anyone taking your pets out in a vehicle should be careful since it doesn't take long. Smaller dogs the less time. By the way if you could go to www.animalrescuesite.com/shelterchall... and put in Carrollton county dog pound and vote for them in the shelter challenge they could use the money for there small pound.

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2whitesabbath(738 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

another killer set free, even going to pay him what a racket.

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3kfarley13(16 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Here we go again - a killer set free!!!!! Evidently he was too busy thinking about working an additional job and the heck with finishing what he started - so Chico paid the price. His butt should have been FIRED!!!!!!

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4RedRover(1 comment)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Sadly, this kind of tragedy happens all the time. Every year, dogs die after being intentionally locked inside cars while their owners shop or run other errands.

When it is 72 degrees outside, the temperature inside a car can rocket to 116 degrees within an hour, even with windows cracked. When it is 85 degrees outside, the temperature inside a car can soar to 102 degrees in 10 minutes and 120 degrees in 30 minutes.

A dog’s normal body temperature ranges from 101 to 102.5 degrees. Dogs can withstand a body temperature of 107 to 108 degrees for only a short time before suffering organ failure, brain and nerve damage — or even death.

If you see an animal in distress inside a vehicle, call your local animal control agency, police department or humane society right away.

The My Dog is Cool Campaign operated by RedRover lets people know that leaving a dog in a car for even “just a few minutes” may be too long.

To order or download educational fliers and posters, or to enter your zip code and find out if it is too hot to bring your dog in the car, visit:


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5AWESOME(10 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Council members,you have no go-nads.You know damn well the officer won't serve his full 60 days nor will he reimbuse the 10K.Live with the guilt!

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6othello(8 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

he should be fired for leaving the dog in the cruiser unattended to go work a side job.FIRED.PERIOD.EXCLAMATION POINT!

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7TB(1167 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

I'm sure he's living with it. I know a couple K-9 officers who develop very close relationships with their dogs.

While he was negligent, the AC stopped working. He did leave the car on with the understanding that the AC would continue to work.

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8whitesabbath(738 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

yeah ok tb

so if you leave your baby in the house with a baby bottle mounted to the crib with a automatic feeder everything is ok.

you had the feeder turned on but it malfunctions..

then the baby dies its still ok

get friggen real

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9TB(1167 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

That is a completely fair and realistic comparison whitesabbath.

Thank you for changing my mind with your astute commentary.

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