PASCO COUNTY, Fla. -- K9 officers with the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office have been getting a lot of attention in recent months for their exploits.
But a former deputy is alleging major problems with how the K9 unit operates.
“Some of them were little, some were big mistakes,” said Cliff Baltzer.
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Baltzer spent almost two decades with the Sheriff’s office including many years in the K9 unit.
He says the problems started last year when his K9 partner, Tundra, showed deficiencies as a patrol dog.
Even though Tundra passed tests, Baltzer tells us Tundra had trouble with building searches and loud noises.
Baltzer says his unit’s sergeant blamed him for those problems even though records show Tundra did all the required training.
“I had documented, date stamped proof of their records of showing 'hey, I didn’t do anything wrong,'” Baltzer said.
When Baltzer disputed his supervisor’s take on Tundra, he claims he was transferred out of the department as punishment.
He says his supervisor also threatened to put Tundra down.
Eventually, Baltzer says he paid the sheriff’s office $8,500 to take ownership of Tundra. But he says he wasn’t given the dog until he resigned.
“They accused of me of something I didn’t do. They held my dog over my head as leverage.”
Baltzer says some of the Pasco K9 officers are not properly trained and this video that went viral from an incident in February of last year is a prime example.
“People will get hurt on this, we see some things where they release the dog and they are calling the dog back, calling the dog back. And the dog doesn’t come back. Well, that’s a training issue right there.”
The Pasco Sheriffs’ Office wouldn’t comment specifically about this case, but said in regards to the lawsuit, "It is important to note that these previous lawsuits were also filed by Attorney John McGuire. We would hope any media organizations looking into these allegations would allow the legal process to be completed. Our response in court will answer all questions and, once the facts come out in court, we are confident these allegations will be proven false."
Baltzer now has Tundra and retired K9 Aragon both at home. But what he doesn’t have is a job.