A “heartbroken” Cocoa Police Department is investigating the death of a K-9 who was found dead in the back of a patrol car.
The body of K-9 Zena, a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois, was found in the back of a patrol car after her handler checked on her during a training session at Melbourne’s Criminal Justice Academy, Department spokeswoman Yvonne Martinez said.
Investigators are looking into the cause of death and whether Zena’s handler, who was not identified, followed the department’s policies and procedures for the dog’s care.
The patrol car was impounded after CSI investigators inspected the car.
K-9 Zena was donated to the department last August by a man in South Florida, and was certified this April. She replaced K-9 Kable, a 7-year-old German Shepherd who retired in October.
Zena was trained in suspect apprehension, searches, and officer protection.
K-9 unit commander Lt. Anthony Marchica praised Zena’s aptitude for patrol work when the department decided to train her.
“She is already showing high drive and motivation which is what we look for in a patrol dog,” he said in a statement. “She will be a great asset not only for officer protection, but for the overall safety of our community. The citizens of Cocoa are fortunate to have her on the team.”