Officer charged after police dog dies in hot vehicle

Juan Cerrillo Jr. - Hidalgo County Jail records

SAN JUAN, TX (AP) — A South Texas police officer is accused of leaving his police dog to die in a hot vehicle as temperatures outside rose into the 90s.

San Juan police Officer Juan Cerrillo Jr. was charged Friday with cruelty to non-livestock animals in the death of Rex, a Belgian Malinois (MAL’-ihn-wah). The 37-year-old officer is free on $4,000 bond.

Cerrillo called 911 from his McAllen home Thursday after finding Rex unresponsive in the unmarked vehicle.

RELATED: Ohio governor signs bill allowing breaking into hot vehicles to save kids, pets

San Juan police Chief Juan Gonzalez suspended Cerrillo without pay. Gonzalez says Cerrillo is an experienced K9 handler but that the dog’s death is an “unacceptable loss for the department.”

Internal and criminal investigations are underway.

The Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, which represents police officers, did not return a call for comment Tuesday morning.

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