GREENVILLE - The Greenville Police Department is mourning the death of its K-9 partner.
"Liberty" the bloodhound was left in a squad car in the heat of the afternoon Wednesday and died.
Police said his handler, Officer Jeff Gore, left for the day without putting him up.
"He realized that four hours later he was not sure if he secured the dog in the kennel," said Chief Daniel J. Busken.
"He contacted his supervisor at the department, who found her in the car."
Gore has been put on desk duty while his department investigates what happened. The chief said he could face administrative penalties, as well as criminal charges.
Gore started the bloodhound program at the Greenville Police Department 11 years ago.
He raised Liberty from a puppy and trained her to become a K-9 who helped track down missing children.
"The officer is devastated by this, and we're all devastated by it," Busken said.
So, is the community. Animal activist Melody Shelton has started a letter writing campaign to get the officer fired. She contacted People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) about the incident and has written letters to community newspapers.
"That dog would have given his life for him," she said. "He didn't show that dog the same consideration."