Drug dog dies in tragic fire
A Douglas County Sheriff’s Office drug dog died in an early morning vehicle fire Friday.
Jon-Jon, a four-year veteran with Douglas County, was trapped in a patrol car after the car became engulfed in flames while officers were securing an industrial building at approximately 1:40 a.m.
Details as to how the fire started were not immediately available, but a preliminary investigation of the cause of the fire pointed to a problem with the after-market wiring on the patrol vehicle.
Deputy Rick Koontz and Jon-Jon, Koontz’s partner since 2002, had responded to assist another officer on an intrusion alarm in the Meridian Business Park area.
Officers had discovered an open door on the large industrial complex and entered to conduct a search of the facility.
As policy and procedures dictated, Jon-Jon, trained in the discovery of narcotics, was left secured in the officer’s patrol vehicle. The other officer on scene happened to be a K-9 handler as well, only his partner was trained as a patrol K-9 and was taken into the building to assist with the search.
The officers took approximately 20 minutes to secure the facility and upon stepping back outside, they discovered Koontz’s vehicle fully engulfed in flames.
Koontz ran to the aid of his partner. Ignoring the flames, he tried to open the rear door to allow Jon-Jon to escape but the door would not operate due to the intense heat. Koontz then smashed out a rear window but it was too late.
“Other than a broken heart, Koontz was not injured,” Sgt. Tom Mezzetta said. “During Jon-Jon’s brief career with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, he has been credited with the discovery and removal from our community, a substantial amount of illegal drugs. Jon-Jon will be missed.”
A complete story detailing the incident will be in Sunday’s Record-Courier.