Kansas K-9 Tibbie died after she was locked in handler’s hot vehicle as engine stalled

A Kansas game warden K-9 dog death two months ago came after the handler’s patrol vehicle stalled, causing the temperature inside to rise to dangerous levels, a state investigation has determined.

Tibbie the Labrador retriever was the K-9 of Game Warden Adam Pack until she died Aug. 6 in what Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism called a “tragic incident.” An investigation into the dog’s death ended Friday, state officials said in a news release.

“K-9 handlers have a bond with their animal that is as strong as any human partner, and this team was no different,” said Col. Jason Ott, director of the KDWPT Law Enforcement Division, in a statement. “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.”

Pack had left Tibbie locked in the patrol vehicle with the engine running as the game warden “conducted business that did not require K-9 assistance,” KDWPT officials said in the release. The specially equipped vehicle had a heat-alarm system designed to lower the windows and turn on fans if the engine stalls and cabin temperature rises to a certain level.

The patrol vehicle’s engine stalled while the game warden was away, causing the air conditioning to turn off and the temperature inside to rise to “dangerous levels,” the news release states. The handler gave Tibbie emergency treatment and took her to a local veterinarian before she was rushed to the Veterinary Health Center at Kansas State University, where she died.

The vehicle manufacturer was unable to determine why the vehicle stalled. The manufacturer of the heat-alarm system determined it was “not engaged” during the incident. The release said that a KDWPT internal investigation “determined the game warden had not checked that the heat-alarm system was in working order the day of the incident.”

The state agency said it is now “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.”

Tibbie had been with the department for only a few months.

In a June Facebook post, game wardens said that Tibbie had completed her first case after graduating from the Indiana Natural Resource Protection School just a couple of weeks before. In that case, the dog had found the knife used in a crime in Russell County.

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