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      K-9 Officer laid to rest after dying from being left in hot car

      The Bennettsville Police Department held funeral services for its beloved K-9 Officer Tank Wednesday morning.

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      The Bennettsville Police Department held funeral services for its beloved K-9 Officer Tank Wednesday morning.

      Tank, a Black Labrador Retriever, was laid to rest in a tiny gray casket in an area near the department's training grounds off of State Street.

      Bennettsville Police Chief Larry McNeil says Tank's partner accidentally left him in the car Monday outside the police department.

      The engine was off and the windows were rolled up.

      Tank was immediately taken to a local veterinarian's office where he died the next day.

      Chief McNeil gave the eulogy at the funeral and said Tank's death has affected everyone at his department.

      "Difficult and heart-wrenching in a sense because it's never expected. This untimely death of Tank is one that's going to stay with the department. He won't be forgotten," said Chief McNeil.

      The officer who handled Tank has been placed on administrative leave pending an outcome into the investigation.

      His name isn't being released.

      McNeil says the officer stopped by the department Monday to do some work and didn't think he was going to be there very long, so he left Tank inside the car.

      He says the officer is overwhelmed with grief over his partner's death.

      "I don't think people realize how much and how it's going to affect his partner. And how it's going to affect that family because when you're with someone for 365 days a year 24 hours a day, just about everyday, it has an impact on your life after. And we realize that with Tank's partner I don't think anybody would be more hurt right now than he and his family, " explained McNeil.

      Former City of Bennettsville Mayor Lucy Mills Parsons attended the funeral service.

      She says she understands what the K-9 Officers mean to the department, but she realizes that we all make mistakes.

      "They love these animals . They take them with them all the time. And it's just a very sad thing. And accidents happen with people and animals," said Parsons.

      The department has received a lot of criticism over Tank's death.

      Some in the community are calling for the officer to be fired and even charged with Animal Neglect.

      McNeil says the investigation is ongoing, but the officer won't be allowed to be a part of the K-9 Unit again.

      The Humane Society of Marlboro County issued a statement to WPDE NewsChannel 15 on the death of the K-9 Officer.

      "It's been brought to the attention of the Marlboro County Humane Society. Very tragic loss. And until the investigation is complete and we have all the details, we can't take a position," said Kenny Hinson with the Humane Society of Marlboro County.

      Tank was four years old and had worked with Bennettsville police for three years in explosives detection.

      "He (Tank) never realized the job he performed for us and the community was probably one of the most dangerous jobs that anybody would want to have," McNeil said.

      Tank is remembered as a loveable dog who loved his handler and his job with the Bennettsville Police Department.