KDWPT Law Enforcement Division Loses K-9 Officer in Tragic Incident
PRATT – A Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) Law Enforcement K-9 known as “Tibbie” died August 6, 2019 when the idling vehicle she was kept in stalled, disabling the air conditioning system and causing the cab temperature to rise to dangerous levels. Tibbie, a Labrador retriever, was given emergency treatment by her game warden handler, Adam Pack, and a local veterinarian before being rushed to the Veterinary Health Center at Kansas State University where she ultimately passed. A thorough investigation was completed on October 11, 2019.
“K-9 handlers have a bond with their animal that is as strong as any human partner, and this team was no different,” KDWPT Law Enforcement Division director Col. Jason Ott said. “These K-9s aren’t just a law enforcement asset, they’re also a friend and colleague. We feel for Adam and the loss he’s experienced, and the impact this has on the K-9 program and law enforcement division.”
The pair were on patrol when Tibbie was secured in the idling vehicle while the game warden conducted business that did not require K-9 assistance. As is standard practice, the specially-equipped patrol vehicle was left locked with the engine running.
Because each KDWPT law enforcement vehicle that carries a K-9 is outfitted with a state-of-the-art heat-alarm system – specifically designed to lower the windows and engage fans if the engine stalls and the cabin temperature reaches a certain threshold – the vehicle was immediately taken out of service and an investigation was conducted into the cause of the incident.
While a report from the vehicle manufacturer was inconclusive in determining the cause of the vehicle stall, the heat-alarm system manufacturer determined that the heat alarm was not engaged during the time of the incident. An internal investigation confirmed these findings and determined the game warden had not checked that the heat-alarm system was in working order the day of the incident.
The KDWPT Law Enforcement Division is conducting a check of all vehicles that carry a K-9 officer, and modifying K-9 program procedures and officer training to help prevent such an incident from occurring in the future.