SAN DIEGO – A San Diego police officer was charged Friday with causing the death of his canine partner by leaving it in a closed patrol car on a hot day.
The San Diego County district attorney's office filed the misdemeanor charge against Paul Hubka, an 18-year veteran dog handler. If convicted, he faces a six-month jail sentence, a fine and restitution.
Hubka is accused of leaving the 5-year-old Belgian Malinois named Forrest in his car parked in his driveway on June 20. The outside temperature that day reached 108 degrees.
Michael Conger, who represented Hubka on another matter but not in this case, said the officer was "absolutely devastated." Hubka had worked a double shift that day and was exhausted and distracted when he got home.
"I don't think there's anyone who feels worse than he does," Conger said.
The police department said Hubka is on administrative assignment pending an internal investigation.
Hubka is also facing a lawsuit filed last week by the city to recover cost to replace the dog.
The lawsuit alleges that Hubka was reckless and negligent and failed to properly care for the animal.
City Attorney Michael Aguirre said he'll be seeking more than $25,000.
Police Chief William Lansdowne said Hubka was "very remorseful."
"From my point of view, Officer Hubka probably feels worse than anyone else," Lansdowne said. "He lost a partner. He's taken full responsibility for it."