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2 Police Dogs Die From ‘heat-related Injuries’ After Patrol Vehicles Malfunction

Three communities are mourning the recent death of dogs who died in hot cars, including two police canines in Texas and Georgia

For years, safety advocates have sounded the alarm about the dangers of leaving children unattended in vehicles, even for just a few minutes. And now, pet safety inside cars is gaining attention after several recent animal deaths.

On Monday, a Houston Police Department K-9 called Aron died from heat exhaustion when he was left in a running, air-conditioned patrol vehicle and the engine suddenly shut down, according to the department. When Aron’s handler, a police officer, returned to the vehicle, he found 4-year-old Aron in distress and immediately transported him to an emergency veterinarian clinic. He died there a short time later.

Monday’s high temperature in Houston was 95 degrees Fahrenheit, according to AccuWeather data.

Houston police K-9 vehicles “are equipped with a system that notifies the handler, sounds the horn, activates cooling fans and rolls down the car windows if for some reason the vehicle shuts down,” the department said. But “this did not happen in this instance.”

The department is investigating what went wrong to prevent it from happening again. Investigators are starting by having all specially outfitted K-9 vehicles inspected by an outside company “to ensure the warning systems are working properly.”

Aron had been with the Houston police force for nearly two years.

“Please keep Aron’s handler and the entire K-9 team in your prayers as they mourn the loss of Aron,” a police department statement said.

Two other incidents involving dogs in hot cars have been reported, including a police dog named Chase that died of “heat-related injuries” on June 5 in Cobb County, Georgia, when the air-conditioning system malfunctioned in a police vehicle, according to county police.

K-9 Chase, a police dog in Cobb County, Georgia, died of heat-related injuries after being left too long inside of a patrol car after its air conditioning system failed.  Aron had been with the Houston police force for nearly two years. Cobb County Police Department

The police department said Chase was left in a patrol vehicle while his handler and other officers attended an active shooter training at a local high school in Acworth. “Officers had been at training since 11 a.m. and had been checking on their K-9 partners on the hour for 15-minute breaks between each 45-minute training session,” Cobb County police said.

Similar to the Houston Police Department, Cobb County police cars use the same temperature alert technology to notify officers when it gets too hot inside.

“If the air conditioning system fails and the temperature reaches a point where it’s too hot, the safeguard automatically turns on the lights and the sirens, the windows automatically go down, and a fan turns on” and the handler is notified and returns to their vehicle, Cobb County police said.

“Unfortunately, this vehicle had multiple failures, the alert system did not activate, and the handler was not alerted about an issue until they returned to the vehicle to check on the canine,” the department said.

On June 5, the temperature reached into the mid-80s in Acworth, AccuWeather data shows.

Chase was taken to the University of Georgia for a necropsy to determine the exact cause of death.

“This is a horrible incident and our investigators are continuing to gather information regarding the vehicle system failures that led to this tragedy,” police said.

Police said a Tamworth, New Hampshire, woman was charged with cruelty to animals after her terrier mix dog was found “unresponsive” in a vehicle in a Portsmouth parking lot on June 11. The dog had been left in the vehicle for several hours and was dead when officers arrived on the scene, according to authorities.

Police said the outside temperature at the time was in the mid-70s and the temperature in the vehicle was 125 degrees. Officers found a small bowl of food and a very small amount of water on the rear passenger seat.

The dog was taken to a local veterinary hospital for a necropsy, police said.

• Animal experts remind owners that it is dangerous to leave a pet in a closed vehicle, even for a short period of time. It only takes 20 minutes for the interior of the vehicle to reach over 100 degrees on a 70-degree day, according to the Humane Society. And it doesn’t have to take that long. When it’s 80 degrees outside, the temperature inside a car can heat up to 99 degrees within 10 minutes.

• A dog does not have to be “foaming at the mouth” or showing signs of distress for police to act, according to the New Hampshire Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which added that “irreparable damage” to a dog’s brain starts between 107 and 108 degrees.

• Rolling down the windows has been shown to have little effect on the temperature inside a car.

• The Humane Society also provides additional tips if anyone happens to see a pet in a hot car, including taking down the car’s make, model and license plate and checking in with local businesses to see if they can make announcements about the pet in a hot car. “In several states, good Samaritans can legally remove animals from cars under certain circumstances, so be sure to know the laws in your area and follow any steps required,” the Humane Society explained.

Edited by Deborah .C. Amirize and Anita Mbae

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