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CHANDLER, Ariz. -- An officer whose police dog died after being left in a patrol car for 13 hours last summer in suburban Phoenix was acquitted Friday of animal cruelty.
Chandler police Sgt. Tom Lovejoy was negligent, but prosecutors did not prove he acted recklessly, a justice of the peace ruled. Lovejoy could have been jailed for six months if he had been convicted of the misdemeanor count.
Lovejoy testified that on the morning of Aug. 11, 2007, after working an overnight shift, he parked his police SUV in his driveway and went inside. He said he was exhausted and forgot the Belgian Malinois was sleeping in the back of the vehicle.
Also Friday, a San Diego police officer was charged with a misdemeanor in a nearly identical case.
Paul Hubka, a longtime dog handler, is accused of leaving a 5-year-old Belgian Malinois in his car on June 20, when the outside temperature reached 108 degrees. Hubka had worked a double shift and was exhausted and distracted when he got home, according to an attorney who represented him on another matter.
If convicted of the misdemeanor, Hubka faces a six-month jail sentence, a fine and restitution.
The city also sued Hubka to recover the cost to replace the dog.