Police K-9 found dead in vehicle at Utah State Prison

Jul 14, 2023, 12:56 PM | Updated: Jul 15, 2023, 4:03 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The state is investigating whether the death of a Utah Department of Corrections K-9 found in a law enforcement vehicle is heat-related.

Loki, an 8-year-old Belgian Malinois, “was found deceased in a K-9 vehicle at the Utah State Correctional Facility on Thursday evening,” according to a statement from the corrections department.

No other details about the incident — including how long the dog may have been in the vehicle before it was discovered — have been released. The State Bureau of Investigation has been asked to investigate the incident.

“Initial indications show it is likely heat-related, but this is still being investigated. We currently believe the K-9 was found toward the end of the day, but a specific time hasn’t been determined. (The bureau’s) goal is to conduct a thorough and unbiased investigation in order to provide accurate findings,” the agency said Friday in a prepared statement.

The high temperature at Salt Lake City International Airport, just east of the prison, was 97 degrees on Thursday afternoon.

“Obviously our department is devastated, but none more than his handler,” Utah Department of Corrections Executive Director Brian Redd said during a press conference Friday afternoon. “This is a really difficult thing he is going through right now.”

Loki “served this department faithfully for six years,” Redd added. “We are mourning along with all of our staff and, at the same time, we are committed to fully investigating the circumstances of Loki’s passing.”

Loki started working with the department in 2017. He was used for “drug detection, fugitive apprehension, facility security and emergency response,” the department said.

“This is a tragedy for all of our department,” Redd said. “We acknowledge (there is) a lot of emotion surrounding this.”

He added that an internal investigation will also be conducted as well as a general review of all K-9 policies and procedures at the prison to determine if any changes should be made to prevent a similar tragedy from happening in the future.

Redd said Loki was discovered sometime between “late afternoon and early evening.” He did not know how long the K-9 was in the vehicle before he was found or if any windows were rolled down. However, he said Loki was in a vehicle “designed for K-9s,” meaning it should have had tools such as a heat-detection system. He said part of the investigation will look at whether the death was due to equipment failure or an “operational error.”

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Police K-9 found dead in vehicle at Utah State Prison