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Corrections Secretary Wetzel Takes Administrative Action in Response to Death of K9 Totti

Handler and supervisor are reassigned, investigative report forwarded to law enforcement
Harrisburg, PA – Following a full internal investigation into the death of K9 Totti, Corrections Secretary John Wetzel has taken immediate administrative action and reassigned the two individuals involved to non-canine duties at a state correctional institution.
Wetzel removed Totti’s handler and his supervisor from their positions with the Drug Interdiction Unit on Wednesday after the completion of a report by the Office of Special Investigations and Intelligence into K9 Totti’s death.
The two individuals involved, a captain and a sergeant, have been reassigned to positions at SCI Rockview effective today. A senior DOC officer with military K9 experience has been assigned to lead the Drug Interdiction Unit.
An internal disciplinary review will be conducted to determine what if any disciplinary actions will be taken against the officers involved. 
“While the investigation concluded that this was not an intentional act and we recognize that those involved are devastated by what happened – as all of us are – this does not excuse the outcome,” said Wetzel. “Therefore I have moved both individuals out of the unit and we will let the disciplinary process take its course.”
The DOC is fully cooperating with the Centre County District Attorney’s Office and is providing the investigative report, along with any additional information requested, to the DA’s office and to the Pennsylvania State Police.
On July 7, Totti, a member of the Drug Interdiction Unit team, was left unattended in a hot vehicle for three hours. The two-year-old dog was unconscious but alive when he was discovered. First aid was rendered at the scene and he was rushed to an area veterinarian. Despite the emergency treatment, Totti died several hours later from a heat-related seizure while in veterinary care.
In addition to pursuing the disciplinary review, the report made a series of recommendations which the DOC is in the process of actively evaluating including:
  • Updating position descriptions to specifically reflect the duties and responsibilities of employees while working/training at the K9 training academy.
  • Reviewing the DOC’s Drug Interdiction Unit policy to address specific responsibilities for staff assigned to the K9 training academy.
  • Reviewing the DOC’s Drug Interdiction Unit policy to address specific responsibility and care of unassigned dogs while kept at the K9 training academy, including the transporting and holding of dogs in vehicles.
The DOC also is examining the purchase of heat alarm equipment that can be used in K9 vehicles in order to help prevent a similar situation from happening in the future.

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