South Texas officer charged after leaving police dog to die in hot vehicle

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A South Texas officer is accused of leaving his police dog to die in a hot vehicle as temperatures outside rose into the 90s.

San Juan police Officer Juan Cerrillo Jr. was charged Friday with cruelty to non-livestock animals in the death of Rex, a Belgian Malinois (MAL'-ihn-wah). Cerrillo is free on $4,000 bond.

Cerrillo called 911 from his McAllen home Thursday after finding Rex unresponsive in the unmarked vehicle.

San Juan police Chief Juan Gonzalez suspended Cerrillo without pay. Gonzalez says Cerrillo is an experienced K9 handler but the dog's death is an "unacceptable loss for the department."

Internal and criminal investigations are underway.

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The Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, representing Cerrillo, declined comment Tuesday but said the officer has received commendations for his police work.

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