Denton County Sheriff’s Office deputies are at a loss for words after learning their only K-9, Chico, was found dead Friday near Mallard Point, an unincorporated part of Collin County.
Chico, a 4-year-old Belgian Malinois, had been working with the sheriff’s office since 2009.
“He had been buried and shot with a shotgun by a property owner who felt he was a threat to his livestock,” said Sgt. Larry Kish, who is working on the investigation along with Capt. Tracy Murphree.
“The property owner was very remorseful for the outcome of the situation,” Kish said. “He [Chico] is one of us — a deputy — and it’s a tragic and heartfelt thing to have happened to him.”
Chico first went missing from his handler, Matt Rollins, on Dec. 20, when a cold front and high winds blew through North Texas.
According to the sheriff’s office, Rollins discovered the gate to his backyard in Wylie had blown open. Chico and the family’s yellow Labrador retriever were both missing.
Kish stated that the yellow Lab was found on Squirrel Ridge in rural Collin County, near the northern part of Lake Ray Hubbard, on Dec. 23, but Chico was nowhere to be found.
After Chico was dug up and identified by the sheriff’s office through identifying marks, he was transported by Denton County Animal Control to an area vet where he was to undergo a necropsy.
Sheriff Will Travis said they are devastated by the loss of one of their own, and a funeral service will take place at 1 p.m. Thursday outside the Denton County Sheriff’s Office.
“We are treating this like any other criminal investigation,” Travis said Friday afternoon.
The case remains under investigation.
The handler is no longer working for the department, Travis said.
MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.