A former Cherokee County School District police officer accused of leaving his police dog in a hot car where it died, pleaded guilty on Monday to animal cruelty and obstruction charges, receiving three years of probation.

In addition to probation, Daniel Wood Peabody, 53, must pay a $1,000 fine, perform 120 hours of community service, is forbidden from taking a job in law enforcement and must not own, care for, or transport animals for a year.

According to police and court records, on June 10, 2016 Peabody intentionally left his police dog in a patrol car while he checked on a dog his wife was caring for in their home. But, Peabody forgot about leaving the dog, named Inka, in the patrol car and it died from the heat.

During an investigation by the Cherokee Marshal’s Office, authorities learned about another incident involving a dog. Peabody told investigators that a retired police dog he had worked with, a Labrador retriever named Dale, had died from choking on a tennis ball. Peabody later admitted to investigators that he had shot Dale in the head because of health problems the dog suffered.

“Daniel Peabody was aware of the dangers of leaving a dog in a closed vehicle without proper ventilation. Even so, he intentionally left Inka in his car with the windows rolled up, and then forgot about her,” said Lara Ashley Snow, deputy chief assistant district attorney, who prosecuted the case. “It is also troubling that the defendant chose to shoot and bury a family pet, then lied about it to law enforcement.”

Snow said there were challenges to the prosecution of the case as it pertained to the death of Dale. The dog's remains were never recovered and the statute of limitations had passed for initiating a prosecution for cruelty to dogs. Negotiating a plea agreement enabled prosecutors to secure a conviction for the death of both animals.

“Through this plea agreement, we were able to avoid a lengthy trial while ensuring that Mr. Peabody was convicted and held accountable for the death of both Inka and Dale, and that these crimes will remain on his record,” said Cherokee County District Attorney Shannon Wallace.

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