Veterinarian sues LA Sheriff’s Department for covering up bomb-sniffing dog’s death in hot police car

A veterinarian is suing current and former officials of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, alleging they conspired to cover up the 2020 death of a bomb-sniffing black Labrador who overheated after being left in a patrol car, the Los Angeles Times reported.

In a memo regarding the incident, the department claimed that Dr. Yolanda Cassidy said she could not determine how the dog died. But in her suit, Cassidy said the department’s report is “fraudulent” because she never examined the dog and wasn’t even at the work the day the dog died.

A veterinary report reviewed by The Times last year showed that the dog “most likely passed of heat stroke.”

Cassidy says the department covered up the real reason for the dog’s death and wrote the 2022 memo only to help former Sheriff Alex Villanueva avoid bad press during a heated reelection campaign.

In a statement to news outlets on Thursday, the department did not comment on the allegations.

“The tragic death of our beloved Department K-9 named ‘Spike’ is unfortunate,” the statement said. “Due to pending litigation, we are unable to provide further details at this point. However, we can say a supervisory inquiry was conducted in 2020 and precautionary steps have been taken to ensure these incidents do not occur in the future.”

From the Times:

The problems began on the morning of Sept. 29, 2020, when Sgt. Dan Tobin left the 6-year-old dog — who was trained to sniff out explosives and accelerants — in his patrol car while he went inside a station to work. Afterward, in the now-disputed memo, the Sheriff’s Department said that, although Tobin left the windows rolled up, he had the air-conditioning on. When he came back to check on the animal mid-morning, the dog seemed fine.


But when he returned just before 1 p.m., the memo said, the inside of the car was hot, and Spike was unconscious. The sergeant rushed the animal to the East L.A. Dog and Cat Hospital, where staff tried to revive him. Afterward, instead of leaving the dog’s body at the hospital for a necropsy, Tobin allegedly took it with him — which the suit says was “presumably to cover up evidence of Spike’s death.”


When Lt. Joseph Garrido, one of Tobin’s superiors, found out about Spike’s death, he reported it to the captain above him, allegedly imploring the man to investigate the incident thoroughly and make sure no one tried to cover it up. Then, Garrido sent an email reminding his entire canine unit to be careful not to let their dogs overheat.

For months after the incident, the department refused to answer questions about the dog’s death, only saying the cause couldn’t be determined.

Cassidy alleges the department never even launched an investigation in the first place because they wanted to avoid “bad media.”

Sky Palma

Before launching DeadState back in 2012, Sky Palma has been blogging about politics, social issues and religion for over a decade. He lives in Los Angeles and also enjoys Brazilian jiu jitsu, chess, music and art.