Yesterday evening we broke the story of a Mills police officer accused of being responsible for the death of his K-9 partner. Today we found out what this loss means and how the officer can be punished.
This is K-9 Nyx. She was a narcotics dog working at the Mills Police Department. Her handler Officer Zachary Lee Miller is accused of leaving her in a patrol car with the windows up and no air-conditioning for more than 6 hours.
Lt. Shane Chaney is the head trainer for the Casper PD K-9 unit. He says dogs need constant supervision.
Lt. Chaney said, "You really have to pay attention to them, almost like one of your children, you're paying attention to them all the time."
Nyx passed away in the back of the patrol car. A big loss to the Mills Police Department and also a big cost to the tax payers.
Lt. Chaney said, "It can be upwards of forty thousand dollars."
That is to purchase the K-9, get a proper vehicle for it, and train the dog to be a crime fighter. So let's do some math. The town of Mills population is just under 3500 people. Which means the passing of Nyx cost them more than $11 each and more importantly one life of many many consider an officer of the law.
Officer miller faces one charge of not providing adequate food, water, or protection from the weather.The maximum penalty for that charge is up to 6 month in prison or a $750 fine. It is a misdemeanor.
Much of the public is asking why Miller did not receive a more severe charge.
Natrona County District Attorney Mike Blonigen said, "The felony cruelty to animals applies only if you specifically intended to kill or seriously hurt the animal."
Which begs the question is a police K-9 just an animal?
Lt. Chaney said, "Most of the people down here would consider them police officers. But there's some people who would consider them equipment. So I guess it depends on how you look at it."
Miller entered a not guilty plea and today was released on a 5-hundred dollar bail.