Of dogs and babies: Police officer treated more harshly in K-9 death

“Suffered enough” curtails calls for responsibility in drownings and  babies left in hot cars

Less than two months ago, Chandler police Sgt. Frank Lovejoy made national news as he was booked into the Maricopa County Jail on a misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty. Lovejoy unintentionally left his police dog, Bandit, in his car as daytime temperatures reached 109 degrees. His K-9 officer-companion died.

“I am certain Sgt. Lovejoy has suffered greatly from leaving his police dog in a sweltering car,” the sheriff said at the time, “I do not relish the idea of compounding his sadness. However, Lovejoy must be treated like anyone else in similar circumstances.” Later the sheriff stated, “Our investigation determined that Bandit’s death was not an intentional act on Lovejoy’s part,” “But it was reckless and for that Lovejoy must be charged.”

Yesterday in Phoenix, a 22-year old mother, waitressing at Hooter’s did the same thing. This time it was a baby boy who died, while his mother worked her shift. She tearfully explained she had forgotten to drop him off at daycare. Officers said the inside temperature of the car reached more than 100 degrees.  We’ll have to see how this preventable tragedy plays out within the framework of our legal system.

Three years ago, a Mesa mother, also forgetting she had a child, left her 4-month old infant in her vehicle when she went to work. Although her baby died, the mother was never charged with a crime.

An Associated Press analysis of more than 310 such fatal incidents in the past 10 years found that prosecutions and penalties vary widely, depending in many cases on where the death occurred and who left the child to die—the parent, caregiver, mother or father:

Since 1998, charges were filed in just 49 percent of the cases nationally. Of those that have been decided, 81 percent resulted in convictions or guilty pleas. Only half of those brought jail sentences, with the median sentence being two years.

The emotion generated surrounding the officer’s dog far surpassed any calls for the mothers to face penalties. Parents appear to be treated with “compassion” when leaving children to die in hot cars, while dog deaths, as sad as they are, are viewed with more horror. Could the prevailing abortion mentality have contributed to this concept of a baby’s life being held with less regard than a pet?

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