Death of Joe Arpaio's "Favorite" Tent City Dog Means One Thing at MCSO: Inmate Art Contest

Most press releases we receive from law enforcement agencies are to alert the media of a crime that was committed, or a case that was solved -- ya know, things law enforcement agencies are actually supposed to do.

From the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, however, the vast majority of the press releases we receive are about things like 79-year-old Sheriff Joe Arpaio singing a duet with an Elvis impersonator, pink underwear, or today's gem: an inmate art contest to commemorate a dead dog.

"Queen," Arpaio's favorite Tent City dog, died over the weekend while undergoing surgery for a tumor in her liver.

"Queen" lived in Tent City's Animal Safe House (MASH) Unit for nearly eight years after her owner was arrested for animal abuse and cruelty in 2003. 

Last year, "Queen" was adopted out to an East Valley family, with whom she's lived until her death over the weekend.

But "Queen" still has a special spot in Arpaio's public relations war-chest heart.

To honor his fallen pooch, the sheriff is holding a coloring contest for jail inmates.

Inmates are encouraged to create their own sketches of "Queen," the winning picture, Arpaio says, will be framed and hung in the MCSO's MASH Unit at Tent City.

"We have so much remarkable talent sitting in cells over at our jails," the sheriff says. "I will bet we end up with an incredible portrait befitting a 'Queen.'"

The winning inmate will receive a "special" dinner purchased by the sheriff.

Arpaio and his boys in beige haven't always been such tireless advocates of pooches in need.

In 2004, New Times featured a story titled Dog Day Afternoon about a raid gone wrong, when the sheriff's SWAT team stormed a house to serve a warrant to a 26-year-old man who had some outstanding traffic violations.

In the course of the raid, Joe's deputies fired teargas into the house, which arguably started a fire that burned it to the ground.

As the house was burning, one of Joe's humanitarians drove a 10-month-old pit bull puppy -- trying to flee the burning building -- back into the inferno.

As the puppy burned, sheriff's deputies reportedly laughed at the animal's distraught owner, Andrea Barker.