STEPHENS COUNTY, Okla. - A Stephens County deputy was fired after his K9 officer died while in his care.
The incident came to light August and, since then, the Stephens County Sheriff’s Office has conducted an investigation and terminated Matthew Peck.
The investigation has been turned over to the district attorney to decide if felony animal cruelty charges with be formally filed.
"We were shocked, and we're saddened,” said Stephens County Sheriff Wayne McKinney. “This is a loss of one of our deputies or K9 deputies."
K9 Deputy Bak was just 2 years old when he joined the force, but his name will be joining those of four other fallen deputies on a monument outside the Stephens County Courthouse.
"The handler has the utmost responsibility to make sure that that dog is well taken care of,” McKinney said.
Peck has been Bak's partner for four years until sources said he left the dog inside his deputy cruiser during his days off work.
Sources said he did not discover the animal until days later when he was back on duty.
He smelled the dead animal while on his way to court one morning.
Sources said Bak was left inside the deputy's car for 36 hours.
"A tremendous amount of work goes into the dogs and not only with their dogs but with their handlers. Those two become partners,” McKinney said. "We will replace Bak and remember him, but we'll continue."
NewsChannel 4 contacted Peck’s attorney, but he declined to comment on the case.