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Dog-abusing Ramsey County sheriff's deputy Brett Berry won't be fired after all

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A Ramsey County sheriff's deputy caught on tape beating his K-9 police partner won't lose his job, according to a decision filed Monday by state arbitrator Gil Vernon.

Deputy Brett Berry, a nearly 20-year veteran of the force, was attending a canine officers' certification event at Black Bear Casino in June 2015 when the incident took place. Berry got drunk.

The off-duty deputy went outside to take his K-9 partner Boone for a walk. When the inebriated Berry had a difficult time clipping the leash to Boone's collar, he took out his frustration by beating up the dog.

Berry later admitted to abusing the animal while drunk, and enrolled in an alcohol treatment program. A Carlton County judge sentenced him to one year of unsupervised probation.

The Ramsey County Sheriff's Office months later terminated the deputy after conducting an internal investigation.

That decision will be reversed in light of this week's ruling.

According to arbitrator Vernon, Ramsey County's move was too harsh. In firing Berry, Vernon said the county neglected to consider other factors. He cited Berry's willingness to undergo alcohol treatment, the deputy's upstanding professional record, and the fact that Boone, the K-9, suffered no physical injuries.  

Vernon ruled that Berry must be reinstated immediately. The only restriction of his return to work is that Berry cannot work with police dogs.

Based on Berry's record and how he reacted to the incident, "the Arbitrator is convinced that it was an aberration and that he deserves another (but last) chance to resume his career," Vernon wrote.

When contacted early Tuesday morning, Ramsey County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Sgt. John Eastham declined comment.

The department has scheduled an afternoon press conference.