Further Investigation Into Bandit’s Death, K-9 Dog Left In Car For 12 Hours


Last week, we posted up a story about a Phoenix area cop, Sgt. Tom Lovejoy, who was accused of leaving Bandit, his K-9 dog, in a patrol car for more than 12 hours in 109 degree temperatures. Bandit died from the intense heat.

As the investigation continues, more details of the case have surfaced:

  • After Lovejoy found Bandit’s body in the car, he called a commander. The commander came to the scene and took pictures of the scene and the vehicle. He then took Bandit’s body to an animal hospital to have it cremated before a formal investigation. He paid the bill by using a city-issued credit card. The commander then cleaned out Lovejoy’s patrol car with bleach and water.
  • After the incident, a fellow K-9 officer came to Lovejoy’s house and hid his service weapon because he thought that Lovejoy was so distraught and may harm himself.
  • Lovejoy had only slept six hours in the two days leading up to Bandit’s death, partly because he worked two different extra-duty shifts. Throughout the day of the incident, Lovejoy said that he had forgotten that Bandit was in his patrol car due to family issues and lack of sleep.

The commander that disposed of Bandit’s body told investigators that he did that because he thought it was in the best interest of Lovejoy because he was so upset. He also said he thought there would be no need for a criminal investigation because of how a similar incident was handled earlier in the year.

On Wednesday, the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police complained about Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s decision to arrest Lovejoy on suspicion of animal cruelty.

Arpaio said that 98 percent of animal-abuse suspects are booked into jail facilities and the rest are cited.

The state police chief’s group said that Arpaio should have only cited Lovejoy because the situation did not warrant a full arrest. They added that Arpaio only arrested Lovejoy for political reasons and to make headlines.

Arpaio said he isn’t going to treat anyone differently because he is a police officer.

When asked if the police officers were trying to cover up Bandit’s death by removing the dog’s body and cremating it, the Chandler Law Enforcement Association laughed. They said that Lovejoy is a good man and they started the investigation immediately.

Lovejoy is expected to appear in court on September 25.

UPDATE: Lovejoy’s wife said that she feels that Arpaio owes Lovejoy and their family an apology for making this situation into a national media event. She said Lovejoy’s record and reputation have been damaged. She also added that her family has received death threats.

Source: Arizona Republic

Photo: AZ Central

(Thanks Shaun)

16 Responses to “Further Investigation Into Bandit’s Death, K-9 Dog Left In Car For 12 Hours”

  1. Nancy G. says:

    There’s a deeper issue here- if he’s so overworked and sleep deprived that he forgets his dog in his car [for twelve hours!?], what kind of mental state is he in to be driving a vehicle, carrying a weapon and enforcing the law, under what must often be extremely risky situations? This is a danger to the public, not just his poor, dead dog. If this is their ‘excuse’ and explanation, it only makes matter worse, IMO.

  2. nora says:

    Above statement says it all and may I add Bandit suffered terribly while he died because he was “forgotten”. This is BULLSHT! It does not matter how tired you are. There is no way in Hell that you forget a dog in the car in that kind of heat. The cop was awake enough to eat and function, SO WHAT IS HIS REAL PROBLEM. He just didn’t give a real damm about the dog. PURE NEGLIGENCE. The fellow officers are covering for this guy.

  3. Denise says:

    “On Wednesday, the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police complained about Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s decision to arrest Lovejoy on suspicion of animal cruelty.

    Arpaio said that 98 percent of animal-abuse suspects are booked into jail facilities and the rest are cited.”

    funny Sheriff Arpaio didn’t arrest his SWAT Team goons when they stormed a house, set it on fire and forced a 10 month old puppy to be burned alive while his deputies laughed at the owners who were hysterical because they wouldn’t let the dog escape from the burning house.


    Dog Day Afternoon
    Sheriff Joe ’s goons launched an assault to make a misdemeanor arrest. The Raid left a burned house, a terrified neighborhood and a dead dog.

  4. Anonymous says:

    So if it was a human … a child instead of a dog, how would the commander and his fellow cops handle the situation? Hmm, missing children’s cold cases must be looked at again.

  5. highnote says:

    So this guy had personal problems and lack of sleep and what if that was his child in the car. Is he going to forget about the child too?
    This poor dog suffered a terrible death because this man was not paying attention to his responsibilites. Nancy said it all! Sounds like the swat team is just as cruel!

  6. furmom says:

    Millions of parents have responsibility for their children 24 hours a day, regardless of sleep deprivation. Millions of pet owners K-9 officers, breeders, vets, have the responsibility for their partners and pets 24 hours a day, regardless of sleep deprivation It’s part of the job to meet those responsabilities.Just because this officer did not mean to kill his partner, just the same he was negligent in one of the mos important areas of his duties, protecting his partner. If he wasn’t prepared to meet that duty, he should have given care of the dog to another officer who can understand the requirements of that responsability. This is just as critical as a sleep derived mom or dad caring for their baby. You can’t just say “oops I left him in the car for twelve hours”.

  7. purringfur says:

    Living in the Phoenix area where it’s so hot, it’s something ingrained in your mind NOT TO LEAVE ANIMALS IN THE CAR. Look at all of the people working two jobs or more, picking up over time, caring for their families and sometimes their parents as well, sleeping very little — doing it all. Look at the single moms and dads doing this day in and day out — stretching themselves thin. THEY have pets, too!

    How someone cannot think of their dog, especially a partner — police dog–for over 12 hours is beyond what I can fathom! Looks like the wagons are being circled to try to get this guy just some paid “R & R.”

    Who here would like to be the judge in this case?

  8. Nancy G. says:

    Wow I’m glad I don’t live in Phoenix, with a moron like that for sheriff. How does he keep his job? I know not all cops are like that, but many seem to have a cruel streak. During Katrina, cops in St. Bernard Parish in New Orleans were shooting pet dogs people left behind, or after forcing people onto evacuation buses without their dogs, which were then killed. It was disgusting, and of course they tried to deny it. A group had brought legal action against them, I never heard what happened. Anderson Cooper came upon one such scene, inside an old school, it was heartbreaking, dead pets everywhere and uneaten dog biscuits their owners had left with them. I’d wonder about the sanity of people this cruel.

  9. CINDY WALSH says:


  10. Lynn says:

    Everyone of you said it well. I simply cannot possibly imagine leaving a living creature in a hot car no matter how sick or tired I was.

    And it wasn’t just Lovejoy. The whole family is responsible. Certainly the wife and kids had to know that the dog was his partner and worth bucks to the sheriff’s department…..and that they should say something like, “Where’s Bandit?” when he’s been missing. And none of them did until it was too, too late. Not one.

    I’d say there are much bigger issues here than any of us knows about.

  11. mittens says:

    i agree with the above- it’s completely irresponsible for someone sleep deprived and emotionally fragile for whatever reasons to be running around with a gun and a badge. how equally screwed up would his judgement have been if say a human he arrested was dumped in the car and left to rot for 12 hours? or in a do or die life threatening situation and he’s about to collapse from lack of sleep and a bystander is harmed due to his unfit for duty condition?

    if it was a human corpse they had hauled out of that squad car would they have also covered up the crime? no one is above the law no matter who or what is the victim . these men acted disgracefully as well as criminally. it’s always so much worse when the law officers are the ones acting like the criminals. youre responsible for your partner and even for the well being of any suspect in your charge.if you are unable to live up to that responsibility youve no right to be in the uniform nor to be protected by it.

  12. Tammy says:

    Excuses, just fest up and admit your guilty. You didn’t give a second thought to how much suffering the dog went through. And for his wife go ahead and defend the murderer. I guess if he killed your child you would defend him also. Fire him he should not be a cop.

  13. Lynn says:

    At the risk of making it too graphic….. I hope that everyone gets riled up and makes da**ed sure everyone knows about leaving ANY living creature in a car, even in the shade with windows rolled down.

    The car was cleaned with bleach and water after Bandit was removed. By this I’m inferring that Bandit vomited and quite likely went into serious convulsions and lost control of his bowels and bladder.

    I don’t know what the criteria is for a policeman having a police dog partner, but if the police or sheriff’s department does not do a serious in-home investigation, including no-warning follow-ups at odd hours, they ought to be. And there ought to be rules about working consecutive shifts.

    This is totally unjustifiable.

  14. Sylvia says:

    This jerk needed to be arrested and his Commander needs to be charged with destroying evidence for cleaning the car and removing the dog’s body - and it was DEFINITELY a crime scene. Too bad idiot boy had family problems - probably one was his equally clueless wife, she should shut up - he is obviously not up to working a double shift and certainly should never ever be responsible for any animal. How would you like this jerk show up if you called the police for help? He should be fired and put in prison for murder of a police officer, it’s what he did.

  15. Rose says:

    it’s a privileged to be a K-9 officer. Besides the heartless indifference of leaving his partner in the car resulting in death, the community has lost one of it’s K-9 officers.

    In my community when when a K-9 officer dies it is given a burial at the pet cemetery with bagpipes and other officers in attendance. Very moving and it’s hard to even think about without tearing up. This dog did not get that honor it deserved. How sad that they chose to try and cover the tragic death instead of coming forward and telling the truth from the start and honoring the dog’s service.

    In my community a officer for a K-9 dog is very carefully chosen due to the time requirements and the responsibility of having such a valuable and very costly dog under their care. Many times officers with families are not chosen when single officers are available because of the extra time required. It’s a big chunk out of a community’s police budget to purchase the dog and train the officer… may communities simply cannot afford it and share dogs with neighboring suburbs. How sad that this dog ended up in the wrong community instead of another town in another state where it would be treated with respect and care.

    I hope they are banned from getting any more K-9 dogs.

  16. Cindy says:

    This guy should not be allowed to have a badge and a gun! He has got to be the most worthless excuse for a human being. That poor dog suffered so much I can’t even begin to imagine. They should lock this stupid idiot in the car in 100 plus heat and leave him to suffer and die!

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