Ex-school police officer charged with 2 K-9 deaths in court

- The former Cherokee County School District police officer who has been charged with the deaths of two police K-9s made his first appearance in court on Thursday.

Former School Police Lt. Dan Peabody was charges of aggravated cruelty to animals and making false statements to officers.

The aggravated cruelty to animal charge comes after Peabody left his partner, K-9 Inca, in his patrol car with no ventilation while the engine was off on June 10. A necropsy performed by the University of Georgia found that the dog died from heat stroke. Chief Marshal Ron Hunton, at a press conference Wednesday, said the patrol car was not properly equipped to transport a police K-9 because it didn’t have an agency-approved kennel or heat alarm system.

The false statement charge is in connection with the death of another police dog, Dale, a yellow lab who was retired from K-9 duty by Cherokee County Police in 2012. Police turned the care of Dale over to Peabody after the dog’s retirement, after being assigned to Peabody from 2007 until 2012. Cherokee Marshal’s Office investigators along with investigators with the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant at the former home of Peabody on Monday, and animal remains believed to be those of a dog were recovered. Peabody initially claimed Dale’s death was accidental due to Dale choking on a toy. But at a news conference on Wednesday, Chief Hunton said the investigation showed evidence Dale was shot and killed by Peabody at his Paulding County home shortly after Dale retired from service.

Thursday, Judge Mark Anderson read a list of special restrictions to which Peabody would have to adhere once released on bond. Those include not having any contact with animals, not possessing any weapons and staying away from witnesses in the case. Peabody’s bond is set at $22,400 bond.

Lt. Peabody submitted his resignation from the CCSD School Police Department on June 16 and the School Board accepted his resignation at its meeting that evening.

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