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Pup sired by Flash may join K-9 squad

Quick, a 6-month-old German shepherd, may eventually carry on the tradition of K-9 excellence left by Flash, the highly decorated Sheriff's Office dog that died June 25.

Under an agreement signed Thursday by Flash's handler, Cpl. Brian Brosnan, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office will consider Quick _ the pick of a nine-pup litter sired by Flash _ for its K-9 unit once the dog is old enough.

If the animal meets Sheriff's Office standards, Brosnan will sell it to the office for $1.

"If it passes muster, it's ours," Capt. Charles Troy said. "If not, it's Cpl. Brosnan's responsibility."

Brosnan, an 11-year veteran of the K-9 unit who has supervised the K-9 officers, may not be assigned to the dog he will spend months training.

In fact, Brosnan has not said whether he will return to the unit.

Flash died in Brosnan's squad car while the officer was attending a training seminar at the county jail.

The 6-year-old dog had been in the idling car for more than two hours _ routine for sheriff's K-9 officers _ before Brosnan discovered that the car's air conditioning and temperature alarm had malfunctioned. Flash became overheated and couldn't be revived.

After Flash's death, Brosnan took two weeks of vacation. He has been on administrative duty and is expected to return to road patrol soon.

An internal investigation into the dog's death cleared Brosnan of negligence and determined that equipment failure was to blame.

Brosnan decided last year to breed Flash, he wrote in a Sheriff's Office memo, to raise a "dog with the qualities of K-9 Flash and save the Sheriff's Office thousands of dollars."

Flash, bought in 1993 for $3,000, was an Olympian at police trials year after year. In April, he took first place in the team category at the U.S. K-9 competition.

"If things worked out right, this dog (Quick) would start training to be Flash's replacement," Brosnan wrote.

Brosnan was asked to write the memo when the Sheriff's Office learned in April that he had been paid $1,200 to board the female dog, Pura, for 14 weeks, and her puppies for eight weeks.

Brosnan did not violate department policy when he bred Flash, in part because no policy on breeding police dogs existed, Capt. Charles Troy said.

Also, Troy said, Brosnan had good intentions when he paired Flash with Pura, a well-bred shepherd born in Germany.

"He wanted to raise a replacement for K-9 Flash," Troy said. "Flash was a good K-9, and Cpl. Brosnan wanted those genes to be passed on."

Harold Sample, executive assistant to Sheriff Lee Cannon, said Brosnan did nothing wrong, even though Brosnan didn't tell anyone about his plans to breed Flash.

"The dog didn't object to being a sire," Sample said. "And the dog's effectiveness as a member of our K-9 unit wasn't harmed in any way."

The puppies Flash fathered, except for Quick and one female that died, were sold for $450 each. One went to a federal drug enforcement agent in South Florida and another to a Pasco sheriff's deputy who lives in Hudson.

Brosnan didn't keep the money from the sale of the puppies; Pura's ownerdid. Brosnan's payment was the pick of the litter.

The $1,200 he received covered his expenses for food, veterinary care and general upkeep for the puppies, Troy said.

"I don't think he was paid enough for taking care of eight puppies for eight weeks," he said.

The Sheriff's Office now has a policy, which Brosnan wrote, that requires handlers to get permission before breeding their assigned dogs.

Troy said the Sheriff's Office had been working on the policy statement when Flash died.

Officials decided to delay the policy's completion until the investigation into Flash's death was complete.

"We don't want to be in the puppy business," Sample said. "Now we have an appropriate measure in place that requires preapproval, in case this ever comes up again."