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Fla. K-9 dies following ‘heat episode’

Madison County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Archer assisted in the arrest of a felony suspect before the episode; he was rushed to a veterinary hospital, where he later died

Blistering heat kills patrol dog tracking suspect through Florida woods, sheriff says

“This is what needs to be understood. The criminal that caused this entire incident was moving toward one of our citizen’s residence and was only a couple hundred yards from the home. ... What would have happened had the criminal made it to one of those residences?” Sheriff David Harper said. “We will never know because multiple dedicated deputies led by one amazing and committed canine named Archer located and arrested the criminal before he was able to reach the manicured grass in the yard.”

Madison County Sheriff’s Office via Facebook

By Mark Price
Merced Sun-Star (Merced, Calif.)

MADISON COUNTY, Fla. — The ongoing heatwave plaguing North Florida is being blamed in the death of a law enforcement dog that collapsed while pursuing a suspect, investigators say.

K9 Archer suffered the “heat episode” on July 4 , as the Madison County Sheriff’s Office was hunting a man who jumped from a vehicle on Interstate 10 and ran, according to a news release.

The dog died the next day at an animal hospital in Gainesville, “surrounded by his handler, fellow members of our canine unit and medical staff.”

“K9 Archer honorably fulfilled his duty by protecting our citizens, our communities, and our deputies without fear or hesitation,” Sheriff David Harper wrote in a July 5 Facebook post.

“K9 Archer will remain in our hearts forever and never to be forgotten. Rest easy our protector, we will continue to hold the line in your honor.”

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Temperatures were in the mid 90s the day of the chase, which happened about a 40-mile drive east from Tallahassee.

Dogs show a series of symptoms when overheated, including “frantic panting, extreme salivation, bright-red membranes, and labored breathing,” according to the American Kennel Club.

“The condition may quickly progress to a metabolic meltdown,” the club reports. “Unable to stand, the dog might even have a seizure, become comatose, and die. Even if you can cool down the dog and they’re acting normally, rush them to an emergency clinic because their organs may have already been damaged and death could follow.”

Investigators say that Archer went into action when a “felon” vanished in the woods during a traffic stop. Archer was instrumental in the suspect’s arrest. His identity and charges have not been released as of July 8.

Archer’s on-the-job death raised questions about the canine unit’s procedures, resulting in Harper becoming “aggravated” in a July 6 Facebook post.

“This is what needs to be understood. The criminal that caused this entire incident was moving toward one of our citizen’s residence and was only a couple hundred yards from the home. ... What would have happened had the criminal made it to one of those residences?” Harper said.

“We will never know because multiple dedicated deputies led by one amazing and committed canine named Archer located and arrested the criminal before he was able to reach the manicured grass in the yard. Yes it is hot. No doubt about that. However heat does not deter criminals and crime.”

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