A Douglas County drug dog was killed early Friday when the patrol car he was in caught fire while his deputy handler assisted in the search of a commercial building.
Jon-Jon, a 5-year-old Labrador retriever, was a trained
narcotics dog assigned to Deputy Rick Koontz. The duo also served
as law enforcement ambassadors in schools.
Koontz and another deputy were investigating a burglar alarm at
the Meridian Business Park around 1:30 a.m. when the fire broke
out, sheriff's Sgt. Tom Mezzetta said.
Because Jon-Jon was specifically trained to find narcotics - and
not as a patrol dog - he was left in Koontz's locked vehicle as
dictated by policy, Mezzetta said.
When the deputies came out of the building about 20 minutes
later, the vehicle was fully engulfed in flames.
Mezzetta said the vehicle's rear door wouldn't open because of
the intense heat and Koontz smashed a window to try to rescue his
four-legged partner, but it was too late.
"Other than a broken heart, Deputy Koontz was not injured,"
A preliminary investigation suggests the fire may have been
sparked by faulty after-market wiring, though further investigation
is needed to pinpoint a cause, Mezzetta said.