Arizona K-9 Cop That Left Dog In Car Creates Pet Safety Device

LovejoySergeant Tom Lovejoy of the Chandler, Arizona Police Department was found to be negligent when he left his police dog, Bandit, in the car for 12 hours. Bandit died from the intense heat.

Lovejoy had a two day suspension and is barred from serving on the K-9 unit.

Now, Lovejoy is trying to create something that may prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again. Last week, he demonstrated an Ocu-Alert device which would keep a car running while a dog is inside.

The device is a black mat that is placed in the back of a K-9 vehicle and is connected to the vehicle’s ignition. When the dog is on the mat, the car stays on even if the keys are removed from the ignition.

Lovejoy and his partner, a K-9 handler, plan to sell it to police agencies and consumers for about $800. Lovejoy said that he would not take any of the proceeds.

He added, “This is part of the grieving process. That’s basically the driving force behind this. I don’t want anybody to go through what I’ve been through in the last two months.”

Source: East Valley Tribune

Photo: Lovejoy pictured with his new dog, Beth.

71 Responses to “Arizona K-9 Cop That Left Dog In Car Creates Pet Safety Device”

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  1. copdawg says:

    13-1202. Threatening or intimidating; classification

    A. A person commits threatening or intimidating if the person threatens or intimidates by word or conduct:

    1. To cause physical injury to another person or serious damage to the property of another; or

  2. Tanya says:

    Saying you would “NEVER EVER EVER FORGET MY DOG (CAT, CHILD) IN A CAR” is saying you are not human.

    the term “murder” implies INTENT.

    Do you people really think that children who are abuducted from moms who are shopping, were abducted simply because the mother was “irresponsible”.

    Does someone who leaves the stove on in a house, and burns the house down *mean* to do it?

    You people are sick and judgmental.

  3. Lynn says:


    I’m not well-informed about training modules used for K-9’s; I can only go on what I have been told by my source who is well experienced in this area. His opinion was negative of the “attack” if partner not in sight when door sprung open. Too many errors.

    Regarding Ofcr Lovejoy and the duress for the past couple months: I can appreciate that. I truly can. And if Bandit truly meant something to him, then the feelings he has won’t go away any time soon.

    Of course he never intended for this to happen. Not a soul on this blog believes it was an intentional act. Nonethless, the safety and well-being of kids and pets and K9 cops has to the top priority in the families that caretake them.

    That said, I DO feel for the man. But I also know that if my husband did this to a child or pet, I would be hard-pressed to live with him, to trust him again. I might even divorce him. This is a very natural human reaction.

    I have to tell you that I have had periods of being under an inordinate amount of stress and have never left any of my dogs in the car or forgotten them. Animals are my greatest love - far beyond anything else I am or do. Their safety is my priority no matter what else is going on in my life. But I’m smart enough to know that all people don’t share my feelings.

    I’m not a heartless soul, and I truly wish that NO ONE ever experiences such a horrible situation. But the fact remains that stress does indeed impact everything you do, no matter how controlled and fastidious you normally are. I really hope the PD promotes regular informal psych evals to make sure that ALL officers are mentally intact… preclude accidents like this from happening.

    I also believe that the best punishment for the accident was to relieve Lovejoy from K-9 partner duty.

  4. kellyd says:

    The guy killed one dog due to gross negligence, and has “new dog Beth”???? WTF???? No more living beings entrusted to this moron, including any criminal he might half-wittedly encounter. Geesh.

  5. Lynn says:

    Tanya: October 30th, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    “Saying you would “NEVER EVER EVER FORGET MY DOG (CAT, CHILD) IN A CAR” is saying you are not human.”

    I do not believe the above is true. I DO believe that unless the pet is your greatest love and priority in life that the overwhelming likelihood of leaving a pet in the car will never happen. It has nothing to do with being human. It has everything to do with priorities and stress.

    “the term “murder” implies INTENT.” Not necessarily, but I won’t debate the issue.

    “…..were abducted simply because the mother was ‘irresponsible’.” Again, it has to do with priorities and stress, not whether you are responsible or not. Stress does strange stuff to your head.

    No one here on this blog believes that Ofcr Lovejoy meant to kill his dog. No one. But most of us are animal lovers and in some cases the pet is the sole family and perhaps a real reason for living. This may sound strange, but that’s how it is. Because we value animals so dearly, it is damned difficult for us to understand how anyone can be so tired or preoccupied with other matters to the extent of leaving a dog in the car. [Unless you’re used to saying hi to the dog in the AM and then not paying attention to him for the rest of the day.]

    We are not sick nor judgmental, Tanya. And I daresay that labeling us “sick” required an act of judgment on your part. So I guess that makes you one of us???????

  6. Purringfur says:

    The Ocu-alert invention came together very quickly. It took just 7 weeks since Bandit’s death to come up with an invention, prototype it, test it, file patents, set up a web site, and then hawk the product a couple of weeks later.

    August 11, 2007: K-9 Officer, Bandit, is left in Lovejoy’s patrol car

    October 6, 2007: site was registered as a domain name

  7. Lynn says:


    I suspect this is something they had in the works for a long time before Bandit’s death.

    If not, the patent must be pending if the product wasn’t invented until after Bandit’s death. Getting a patent is a long and costly [attorney fees] process. Even still, there’s a lot of research that must go on before the application for patent is even filed.

    If I get a chance, I’ll check out the USPO to see if it’s registered.

  8. copdawg says:

    That’s correct Purringfur. It took me and a co-worker (not Tom) two weeks to write and file the patents (2), and about 2-3 more weeks to design,engineer and build the phase 1 prototype. Phase 2 is now almost complete and hopefully ready to install later this week. By the way, I also have other patents and product’s in development.

    Ocu-Alert is a very simple concept and relies on basic, already proven components, simply being used in an alternate application. Tom’s assistance with the development has been with the operational details. It was extremely important to him that this device create ACCOUNTABILITY. He wanted dispatch to become involved, so the officer WOULD be disciplined for neglecting to remove the dog.

    To those of you who think some type of SHADY deal is going on behind the tragedy, I will refrain from telling you what I think.

    Yes, If this product sells, I will profit from it. Just as the inventor’s of seat belts and airbags…I have over 3000.00 dollars of my own money invested. This is AMERICA….right?

    Since the majority of you are simply looking to slander everyone involved, I will not be responding to this forum again. I will say that I hope none of you ever have to deal with a loss of life, either human or animal, as a result of something you did, or did not do. God bless all of you…now let the christian bashing begin!

  9. Lynn says:

    Actually the Ocu-alert website states that the patent is pending. I don’t see it in the USPO list of pending patents, but I don’t know how frequently they update their lists on the web.

  10. shibadiva says:

    I had been wondering about the timeline of that fateful day, and here it is:

    It doesn’t cover the purchase of Beth or the designing of Ocu-alert.

  11. Lynn says:

    I just read the timeline and a few things strike me:

    ~ Quite possibly Bandit is normally deposited in the backyard at the end of the shift. Good enough to give his life, but not good enough to sleep indoors???

    ~ The wife and Lovejoy talk a lot on the phone - granted they have conflicting work hours……..but she has an “anxiety attack”????? Something more going on here?

    ~ The daughter fed the dogs…….and never comes in to ask her father where Bandit is? Of course, by this time it’s too late.

    I have one suggestion for all K-9 units……such an elementary suggestion that it appalls me that no one ever thought to do this [at least that I have heard of]:


    This should get the officer’s attention, no???

  12. shibadiva says:

    This family had a really bad day, what with Bandit’s demise, the son’s (non-injury) smash-up with his insurance missing, having to replace the chinchilla, and then the anxiety attack.

  13. Jake says:

    I used to enjoy reading the comments on this website but quite frankly I am sickened by how judgemental most of you are. I know I would forget my dogs in the car on a bad day when I have a lot on my mind. That is why I never take them with me when it is hot out. Unfortunately K9 officers don’t have the luxury of staying home on hot days. I can’t believe this doesn’t happen more often, (thank god it doesn’t!), considering officers work long hours, swing shifts, graveyards, and deal with emotional situations. Why would you want to train these dogs to bark when left in the car? Do you know how much energy barking requires? These dogs are left in the car all the time while the officers are working (although obviously not on hot days). What good would a very tired K9 be as a working dog?

  14. Traci says:

    Thanks, Jake. Well said.

  15. Tanya says:

    “I do not believe the above is true. ” - then you are very naive, and i hope life never slaps your naivety. cause humans make mistakes. even with that which is most critical to our lives.

    But most of us are animal lovers and in some cases the pet is the sole family and perhaps a real reason for living.
    Working dogs are NOT PETS. they do not come into the home. they usually do not leave the truck, they LIVE in the truck when at the officer’s home or when on duty so he can run out in a moment’s notice with teh dog.

    THESE DOGS ARE NOT PETS. they are not like our spoiled brat adorable loves we all have. They are there to PROTECT the officer. right or wrong, the trainign comes first. Right or wrong we are USING them, for OUR advantage not thiers.

    When you speak, lynn, out of ignorance of how working animals are used, you come off as irrational and over emotional.

    I love animals too.

    but i understand that humans mess up. I understand that humans who fuck up are not evil, and not murders, and not rapists. though you personally have equated this man with all three.

    I understand that the life of working dogs, especially ones trained to kill, is rather blunt and sadly, ugly. they don’t get the true love and affection of a family, cause they are, no matter how well trained - self-defense weapons.

    should we use dogs as weapons? That’s a totally different question.

  16. shibadiva says:

    Lovejoy would have taken a bullet for Bandit, according to a colleague. Just not that particular day.

  17. Jenny Bark says:

    I have being reading many blogs including Lovejoy’s home city & state & imo he has been treated at lot nicer here. Most of his few supporters use the same words everywhere. I also know more than a few cops with k9 partners & they all stay in their houses. I am the daughter of a cop until he moved on to a higher paying law enforcement job. I am the neice of a cop who died in the line of duty. I am a nice-in-law of a cop who also worked some with the FBI before he retired.

    I come from a very large family with a lot of members in one form or other are involved in law enforcement & all where taught to take care of their partners. I also have & had a lot of members in different branches of the service & all where taught to take care of there partners.

    In my opion he should not be able to have a DOG or any animal, a gun or a badge. I read somewhere he is the head of the k9’s if that is true than imo the whole place should be investigated. I realy don’t care how much service time he had he needs help before he can protect others, imo. I also don’t think there is any law or code that says you have to take extra duty for more money if you haven’t had enough sleep. I also have family that are officers in the union so that is easly to check.

    In my opion any time another officer has to tell a wife to hid another officer’s gun that person should not be in law enforcement with out a lot of doctors help & ok.

    The other real sad thing about this that has not been talked about on Itchmo is how a lot of bloggers talk about the police force. That is real sad because at least 99% of the cops are so good and should & need to be respected by their public. In my opion the ones of you defending this guy should be trying to get him help instead of defending something as ugly as this.

  18. shibadiva says:

    A Phoenix Animal Chaplain also suggested that he needed counseling. Probably, the whole family does, when their schedules are so hectic and their preoccupations so intense that they forget a family member.

    “I’m sure all of us have had personal crisis in our lives, where we may have been in emergency rooms for hours ~ however, there is little doubt that each of us called a friend, or a neighbor to let our dogs out, or feed our cats or take care of other pets, while we were preoccupied.”

    There is so much about this case that we’ll never know. Such as why it was up to the community to organize Bandit’s memorial service when the police department did not do so. And why the neighbours were able to hear Bandit barking but his own family did not. And why the daughter was blamed since she normally fed the dogs. And why the day was filled with shopping.

    But one thing we probably all share on Itchmo is an acute sense of the tragic and unnecessary loss of this beautiful animal.

    It would be wonderful if at least a percentage of the sales of Ocu-alert were contributed to a fund to remember Bandit and other K-9’s lost in the line of duty.

  19. Shane Douglas says:

    He should put in an oven and burned. Not praised for making some lame ass invention. And yes I beyond a shadow of a doubt can say this would never ever happen to me. How the hell do you “forget” your dog is in your car. If you are that stupid, you should even be allowed to DRIVE much less own a pet.

  20. Patent And Invention Know-How. | says:

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  21. GSDOwner says:

    Come on people this guy had not slept more then 2 hours in two days. He was probably delirious from lack of sleep. Did anyone happen to notice that he saved a lost child that day? Or that he was working on a serious case at the time? This guy is a hero. Not to mention that he will probably never forgive himself for what happened. Obviously he feels bad and if I had the money I would buy his invention. Maybe you should all think before you judge someone.This was not intentional abuse. It was an accident caused by a person suffering from extreme exhaustion.

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