Police officer accused of smacking K-9 partner speaks out
Officer says other K-9 handlers at FMPD treat their dogs worse
FORT MYERS - A Fort Myers police officer under fire for hitting his K-9 partner is speaking out tonight. Officer George Sanford now wants to set the record straight, saying he never abused the dog. But that's not all ... Sanford says there *is* a major problem at the Fort Myers Police Department when it comes to how K-9's are treated. Four in your Corner investigator Mike Mason has more on a story you will only see on Fox 4.
Officer Sanford agreed to speak with us if we heard him out - he has serious concerns about the department's investigation. Now you will hear what he has to say so you can better decide for yourself.
Fort Myers police officer George Sanford sat down with us with his K-9 partner “Euro” by his side.....and admitted to smacking his dog.
Officer George Sanford: "Yes, I did smack Euro in the nose twice, two or three times."
But Sanford says it happened when Euro nearly bit him during a training exercise last October.....now Sanford wants us to know more about that incident that sparked an internal affairs investigation after two officers reported seeing Sanford: "strike" his K-9 partner "Euro" multiple times in the head ... They say Euro then cowered down.... and urinated on the floor."
Sanford claims he never abused his dog.
Officer George Sanford: "The punching is not true I smacked him, I smacked him with an open hand that is true and I told them that from the very beginning that's exactly what happened."
Mike Mason: "But should you have done that?"
Officer George Sanford "It was a knee jerk reaction"
The police report goes on to say when interviewing the department's lead K-9 trainer, he said he witnessed seeing Sanford hit his dog twice before stating Sanford: "Improperly corrected Euro by hitting him ... I've stopped him before and warned him that the dog isn't going to continue to take that and the dog will come back to bite him. And (Sanford's) response to me was 'then he'd be a dead dog.'"
Officer George Sanford: "I don't recall that no."
Mike Mason: "Really? You don't even recall him saying that"
Officer George Sanford: "No."
Mike Mason: "So what do you think of this report? How would these things just come into the report?"
Officer George Sanford: "I think it was more or less of a ‘CYA’ thing, basically. Because there are other things that have taken place within the unit that doesn't affect me but it affects what the other handlers have done. But like I say we'll just leave that alone cause I don't really want to open up a whole can of worms."
Mike Mason: '"But when you say ‘CYA’ what does that mean?"
Officer George Sanford: "Because the other handlers have done things to their dogs that are a lot worse that what I've done to him, you know, just smack him in the nose."
Mike Mason: "What does ‘CYA’ stand for?"
Officer George Sanford: “Well, let's just say 'Cover Your Butt’."
Sanford says he's had Euro for about 2 years. During our interview Euro wasn't exactly the most disciplined police dog. Sanford suspects Euro may been abused before he got him.
Mike Mason: "So you think you got an abused dog?"
Officer George Sanford: "I think he was partially abused when we picked him up by the way he was acting."
According to Lee County Domestic Animal Services they've been flooded with calls from people asking why they didn't investigate this -- we are told they don't have jurisdiction - that would have to be done by the State Attorney's Office. But the Fort Myers Police Department hasn't turned the case over to them for possible charges, if they do we'll let you know.