WOODSTOCK — A memorial service for a police dog that died of heat stroke after being left in his handler’s patrol car in June was conducted Friday morning at Dupree Park by the Woodstock Police Department.
Officer Chad Berry wept during the service for his K-9 partner, Spartacus, who died June 17 after being left in the officer’s patrol car outside of his home in Jasper for several hours while the officer attended to his children.
In July, Berry was reassigned to the city’s traffic enforcement unit, suspended without pay for 10 days and received a $6,000 pay cut. Berry was also fined $325 by Pickens County for cruelty to animals in the incident.
On Friday, Berry carried the ashes of the police dog into the memorial service that was attended by about 50 agency heads, sheriffs, officers, deputies and K-9 handlers from law enforcement agencies throughout the region, as well as Mayor Donnie Henriques and City Council members Tessa Basford and Bob Mueller.
Woodstock Chief of Police Calvin Moss said at the memorial that K-9s like Spartacus were “skilled, hard-working, loyal and obedient, without a doubt, a police officer’s best friend.”
“Watching him track a wanted or missing person was pretty incredible, but watching him work a crowd was truly amazing. Spartacus was a highly skilled police dog, there’s no question about that,” Moss said. “But he also had an uncanny ability to put people at ease, especially our youth and elderly. He was in his element in a crowd.”
Moss said that Spartacus had received numerous honors, was the face of the Woodstock Police K-9 unit and had risen
to “near rock star status in Woodstock.”
“Spartacus loved Woodstock, and Woodstock loved him back. He was an enormous asset to our police department, always representing the department, our city, our county and our state, as well as our profession, extremely well,” Moss said. “He was great with children, loved by citizens and always friendly to any citizen who wanted to meet him, at least the law-abiding ones.”
Moss praised the dog for his contributions.
“Spartacus made a huge impact on our community, he touched many, many lives in his time, and was always ready to go to work,” Moss said. “In many ways, he gave his all.”
In July, spokesperson for the department Sgt. Randy Milligan said that Spartacus’ death “prompted a comprehensive review of all canine policies and procedures.”
Milligan said that the Woodstock Police added more safety measures for their police dogs and are in the process of upgrading heat alarms in K-9 patrol cars, with hopes of avoiding another police dog’s death.
“Spartacus was a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois. He joined the Woodstock Police Department family in July 2010. He trained as a multi-purpose dog, he could track suspects, missing persons, find narcotics and apprehend uncooperative criminals with relative ease,” Moss said. “He quickly became a reliable co-worker. He was called upon many times to assist fellow officers throughout the region … No matter the task, Spartacus never gave up until the job was done.”
Just after the memorial began, before Moss began speaking, Woodstock Police Officer Matthew Carrol passed out from dehydration while holding the U.S. flag. Moss was able to anticipate Carrol’s fall, and caught the officer before he hit the ground.
Firefighters who were at the memorial rushed over to Carrol and promptly administered IV fluids to the officer until an ambulance arrived. The memorial continued after the officer left in an ambulance.
“I think he’ll be just fine, they’ll get some fluids in him; I think he was just dehydrated,” Moss said. “He’d been on post for probably an hour before the memorial began.”