City mourns loss of K-9 officer after being left in patrol vehicle that shut down and got too hot
Published 4:15 pm Wednesday, September 4, 2019
Mississippi police are investigating the death of one of their own K-9 officers after the dog overheated in a hot patrol vehicle.
Thor, an 8-year-old German Shepherd with the Vicksburg Police Department, reportedly died from issues related to being left in a hot police vehicle for less than 30 minutes on Tuesday. When found by his handler, Officer Donnie Heggins, at around 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, Thor was in distress. Vicksburg Police Chief Milton Moore said he first was alerted to the situation when he heard Heggins calling out on the scanner about his partner being in distress.
“We know that Officer Heggins immediately began rendering aid and then we quickly transported Thor to the veterinarian clinic,” Moore said. The clinic used by the department, Animal Medical Clinic, declined to offer any details on the case.
Moore said the department was notified Wednesday morning by the veterinarian that Thor had died overnight. He added that, at the wishes of Officer Heggins, Thor was transported to Jackson, where he was cremated.
It is normal procedure, Moore said, for a K-9 officer to be kept in a vehicle with the motor and air conditioning running for hours. Police said they believe the vehicle’s engine shut off somehow.
“We don’t know what happened to force the vehicle to shut down,” Moore said. “The vehicle is in the shop right now to find out what could have happened.”
According to Moore, the rest of the department joins Officer Heggins in mourning the loss of Thor.
“He’s one of us,” Moore said of Thor. “He might have been an animal, but he was an officer.
“But, we are also praying for the Heggins family,” Moore said. “He was a part of their family. It was shocking to know how hurt they are by this loss.”
In addition to serving alongside Heggins, Thor lived with Heggins and his family.
Thor had been a member of the Vicksburg Police Department since 2012, and had been trained in criminal apprehension and cross-trained in narcotics detection. Thor, according to the department release, is credited with more than 60 felony arrests, apprehensions and drug arrests.
“Thor has been very, very effective for the department in fighting the influx of drugs in our city,” Moore said. “We will now take a step back and have to wait for our next K-9 officer to come on duty,”
Moore said Officer Barnes, a K-9 officer currently in training, is scheduled to join the force by the end of September and had planned to be paired with Thor to increase the department’s capabilities.
Thor was born Dec. 28, 2011.