Every major news outlet has done a story on not keeping your pets in the car when it’s hot outside. It doesn’t matter if you keep the windows rolled up or down or if the air conditioning is on or off; no matter what, it puts your pet in danger.
Despite all of these warnings, it seems that a very specific group of people are not taking enough caution. Police dogs have been dying at an unbelievable rate this summer due to heat exhaustion, in many cases while they were locked in patrol cars.
Just last week in Wisconsin, there was a police dog who died from being left in a patrol car. The officer in charge was working at the PGA Golf tournament and had left the air conditioning on for the animal. Unfortunately, at some point during the day the air conditioning failed and the dog died from heat exhaustion. This is not the first case this summer of a dog dying in a car due to faulty air conditioners.
In-car dog deaths have steadily climbed in recent years. The Wisconsin police dog was the 30th dog to die under these circumstances since 2008. Since the last week of May, 11 dogs have died from heat exhaustion, and nine of those are attributable to dogs being left in hot patrol cars.
The punishments that have been given to the responsible police officers have been varied. An officer from Hialeah, Florida was responsible for the death of two dogs in his vehicle. He was suspended with pay from the Miami-Dade County Police Department, but may face up to five years in prison for his offense. Many expect that he will get a much more lenient sentence, though.
A Texas sheriff’s deputy faces different charges after his police dog died in his patrol car. He actually lost his job, and an investigation is being conducted to see if he will face more severe punishment.
Another Georgia police dog was left in a patrol car for over seven hours after an officer forgot about him. He has been placed on paid administrative leave and could face charges of animal abuse and reckless conduct, pending an internal investigation.
While these stories do not encompass all of the circumstances behind the police dog deaths, they are a stark reminder that leaving an animal in the car when it’s hot out is like putting them in an oven.
Be sure to look for signs that indicate whether or not your dog is too hot, such as excessive panting or breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor, and collapsing. More serious symptoms could include seizures, bloody diarrhea, vomiting, and elevated body temperature. Any of these symptoms is cause for alarm, and should be treated right away.