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Cherishing Officer Chico



Published: Fri, June 10, 2011 @ 12:01 a.m.

By jeanne starmack

starmack@vindy.com

NEW CASTLE, Pa.

They stretched for blocks in front of the old Ben Franklin School on Cunningham Avenue on Thursday morning — cruisers for nearly 50 police K-9 units.

Handlers and their dogs from a 99-mile radius around the city had come to pay tribute to Chico, the New Castle Police Department’s 6-year-old Dutch shepherd who died Saturday evening after being in the back of a hot cruiser.

There is an internal department investigation into how Chico, whom the department had for two years, came to die in the care of his own handler, Officer James Hoyland. Lawrence County District Attorney Joshua

Lamancusa also is conducting a criminal investigation.

In the school’s auditorium, Police Chief Tom Sansone did not say much about the circumstances that led to the dog’s death. It was a time to remember Chico and talk about his service to the community, which Sansone did along with a previous handler of Chico’s, Officer Terry Dolquist.

Sansone did confirm some facts later for the press.

Chico was in the cruiser for three hours and 45 minutes, he said.

Chico’s handler, whom he would not officially identify as Hoyland, was working an extra shift on a housing-project patrol from 4 to 8 p.m. At 8 p.m., he was supposed to start his regular shift.

He went to his housing-project patrol in a different vehicle, leaving Chico in their K-9 cruiser in the police station parking lot.

He left the car and its air conditioning running, Sansone said. But after two hours of idling, the air-conditioning system shut down. The car is equipped with a “hot box,” Sansone said. It sounds an alarm and lowers the windows if the car gets too hot. He said the hot box did not malfunction but would not say whether it was activated. The windows were up when the dog was found.

Sansone said that when Chico’s handler found him at 7:45 p.m., he “went wild.”

“He rushed to get water and immediately went to a veterinarian,” Sansone said. Chico died at the vet’s.

Sansone said the department’s policy is that dogs are not supposed to be left in cruisers for long periods of time without their handlers. “Procedures are the dog should stay home in his kennel,” Sansone said.

Hoyland, who was Chico’s handler since January, is on unpaid leave during the investigations.

He was not at the memorial service — he’d come by earlier, Sansone said.

Instead, it was Dolquist who remembered his time with Chico before he’d transferred from the K-9 unit to different duties in the department. He recalled their training sessions at Tri-State Canine Services in Trumbull County, Ohio, where the city bought Chico with $6,000 the community donated, and their first days on the job together.

Chico, who was the department’s fourth dog, would never win any beauty contests.

“My first reaction was, God, that’s an ugly dog,” Dolquist said. “He looked like a hyena” with one floppy ear and a look like he would “take my face off,” he added.

“Then, I learned he’d been in Iraq,” Dolquist said, explaining that the dog had been there with a private security company. About the same time, Dolquist also was serving in Iraq.

In training, Chico was stubborn. “He had a high drive,” Dolquist said. He would lunge out and nip in frustration as if to say, “‘Hey, I don’t know what you want me to do — pay attention,’” Dolquist said, adding he almost gave up on the dog.

Dec. 16, 2009, was Chico’s first day on the job. One of their first arrests, Dolquist said, was of a burglar who’d smashed into a vending machine in a barbershop.

“We tracked him. It was pitch black. Chico got a scent and took off,” Dolquist said. Then, the tight leash suddenly went limp, and Dolquist tripped over something. He turned on his light and saw Chico on top of the suspect. “He was looking at me with that one floppy ear saying, ‘Let’s do this,’” Dolquist said.

Dolquist read a poem called “Guardians of the Night,” which describes a police dog’s loyalty to its handler.

“I will protect you with my last breath when all others have left you,” he read. “Know that each day at your side is my reward.”

Dolquist will keep Chico’s cremated remains for now, and eventually, the police department will keep them at a new police station on North Street. The department will move there in August.

But before the remains would go to safekeeping, there was one thing left to do.

Dolquist carried them from the auditorium to the cruisers outside, and in a 15-minute procession through the city, Chico had his last patrol.


Comments

1CharTres(18 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Officer Hoyland should be left inside a hot, running car with all the windows up and no water. What kind of animal training did this officer have? What was he doing for 3 hours and 45 minutes? Lets see if this gets swept under a rug? What a shame.
I very rarely bring my dogs with me in the car; they are much more comfortable at home. They enjoy walks more than car rides.

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2timOthy(802 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Thought all K-9 units were equipped with automatic door openers and rear AC ! Our did the cop miss that class ! Poor dog ! And INGNORANT COP !

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3luvlove(9 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Heartbreaking on both sides...

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4captdinger(108 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

This guy ought to be put in the same situation as Chico and then when he gets hot and thirsty, tighten up h is collar. What an a_ _ hole.

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5HonestAbe(274 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

If a police dog is killed while in the line of duty, the punishment is the same as if a human cop was killed. In addition, police dogs are great PR for police departments. I suggest that both Hoyland and uncommonsense be left alone in a police cruiser for 3 hours without air. Which comedian is it that says you can't fix stupid? Unbelievable.

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6pwhite1027(106 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

A funeral for a dog - incredible! Wonder how much that event cost taxpayers???

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7HonestAbe(274 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Sorry no-sense, but the law is the law. In this case, the dog in question receives the same funeral treatment as a human law officer. Not sure why you can't understand that. RIF...reading is fundamental!!!

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8charms(228 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

HonestAbe in post #6 hit the nail on the head. This event was pure PR - a waste of time & money. (Were the cops there getting paid?) How many taxpayers died that same day in the community with little or no fanfare? Sorry to all you dog fanatics, but this whole "memorial service" would be funny if it weren't so tragically ridiculous. I feel like I live in India - and a cow died. Yikes!

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9Ginger76(178 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

I can only hope that out of this tragedy, new policies and procedures will be put into place concerning k-9 officers.
To leave a dog unattended for 3 hours and 45 minutes in a car, is incredible. I can't believe that this is part of a policy. This is a living breathing trained Police officer.

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10fattynskinny(195 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

at least manslaughter, possibly murder

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11proud2beMommy(2 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

If that dog saved your life or help capture some criminal that involved you, I bet you would have a different perspective!

Dogs are living creatures with feelings too!

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12TonyL(44 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Where was the FOP when you need them or police dogs don't count? Poor Chico, may he rest in peace!!

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13HonestAbe(274 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

uncommonsense is apparently lacking both common sense and compassion. stupid people are allowed to vote...and that's not right either.

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14paulparks(235 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

peacelover,

I'm sorry the dog died the way it did too... but Pullease! - Give me a break!

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15CharTres(18 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

The bottom line: Community donations paid $6,000.00 for Chico. I have no idea of the cost of the funeral services.....how about having Officer Hoyland pay for all this? Also, he should not be permitted to have a K-9 as his partner again.

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