Cordele Dispatch, Cordele, GA

Local news

September 20, 2012

Justice for Sasha

Warwick council to honor deceased K9

Warwick — Sadly, two weeks after her tragic death, K-9 officer Sasha will be exhumed and receive a proper burial. The Warwick City Council says it wants to do what it can to help with the arrangements.

Eugene Bedal, who donated Sasha to the Warwick Police Department, has been actively seeking justice for the animal since first learning she had died.

Bedal addressed members of the council during its Tuesday night meeting to request the remains of the 10-year old narcotics dog he said was responsible for seizing thousands of dollars in drugs during her time with the department.

“Sasha needs a voice,” said Bedal. “She deserves a hero’s burial like any other K-9 officer.”

Sasha died earlier this month after being trapped inside her handler’s vehicle for several days.

According to initial reports aired by WALB-TV, her handler, former Warwick police Lieutenant T.J. Frye, said he had been out of town that weekend and discovered the dog when he was preparing to return to work on Monday.

His claim is that the dog let herself into the vehicle — a story that Bedal says just does not add up.

“No one believes that dog opened the car door, put herself in there and then closed the door.” Bedal said. “But that fact aside, she still went unchecked for days. Someone should have been looking after her. There is no excuse for that.”

After discovering Sasha’s body, Frye buried the K-9 in his backyard where she was forgotten until a tip on a website alerted news media. It was at that point the story began to spill out prompting an investigation by Worth County Animal Control.

“We were not notified of Sasha’s death until 10 days later,” said Sherri Hendley of Worth County Animal Control. “The chief of police informed me  the dog was discovered on September 3.”

At that point, the police vehicle that Sasha was trapped in had already been taken to a local wrecker service and had partially been cleaned.

“I went to take pictures as part of the investigation,” said Hendley. “There was still a very foul odor in the vehicle, indicative of a dead body having been inside. The seat belts were torn, the rear view mirror was torn from the windshield and had a bite mark and was broken.

“The printer machine between the seats was twisted and had paw prints on top and there were rips in the leather seats where Sasha had scratched. There was also pieces of dog fur and bodily fluids in the passenger floor.”

Hendley said the manner in which Sasha died was “nothing less than horrible” and added that she “suffered terribly before succumbing to the conditions.”

She speculated that on a hot day the interior of the vehicle could have been 30-40 degrees hotter than the outside temperature if left in the sun. There was no air supply in the vehicle. Hendley said Sasha likely had heat stroke and her heart stopped due to the heat.

She was surprised that neighbors did not notice the dog in the vehicle and added that it was reported Sasha was allowed by Frye to run around freely.

Hendley said the case been turned over to the district attorney, who, in turn, has requested that the Worth County Sheriff’s Office handle the investigation. It is possible the Georgia Bureau of Investigation could pick up the case.

Also apparently in the dark about the dog’s demise were Warwick Mayor Alan Peacock and members of the Warwick City Council who said they did not learn of Sasha’s death until the story was telecast.

“I am a dog man myself,” said Peacock. “I did not know the dog was dead. We want to work out some arrangement for her. She was a police officer and she worked hard for the city.

“If she alerted on something you could bet there was either drugs in there or that they had been there recently because she was never wrong. We will take care of her. She was our dog.”

Councilman Ronnie Fennell echoed the mayor’s comments adding that “We were all very upset at the loss of the K-9.

“My family has three dogs and two cats,” he said. “We are going to do our absolute best to bring honor to her memory. I just cannot imagine what she went through during her final moments.”

Bedal was moved to tears as he spoke of Sasha, a dog he described both as a hero and one with a sweet disposition.

“Sasha was afraid of thunder and lightning, but she loved to work and do what she was trained to do,” said Bedal. “She could not be cross trained to track suspects because she just would not bite anyone. But she might have jumped you and licked you to death. She just deserves better than being buried in someone’s back yard like a piece of garbage.”

Bedal gave the mayor and council members a copy of prices from Deceased Pet Care in Atlanta for burial. He said he did not attend Tuesday’s meeting to place any blame as that would be left up to the district attorney’s office.

He also acknowledged that numerous people have shown their sympathy via the Facebook page “Justice for K9 Sasha” which in a relatively short period of time received over 2,000 supporters on the social networking site.

“This is a big step in justice for Sasha,” he said. “I want to push for some type of legislature that will outline guidelines for the care of future K-9 officers in hopes that what happened to Sasha will not happen again.”

 

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