Children left in hot cars have made for tragic headlines this summer. Animals are also vulnerable when left with no way out — especially police dogs, who spend their days riding around with human partners.
Example: A North Carolina deputy sheriff left a police dog in his patrol car overnight in August, and it died.
Duplin County Sheriff Blake Wallace told WFMY News that it was a terrible accident. Deputy Kevin Williams was nearing the end of his shift when he got a call about his sick child, who needed to be picked up.
The distracted deputy fed 5-year-old Kela, a Belgian Shepherd trained to track down narcotics, but forgot to take the dog out of his patrol car, Fox News reported. It was found dead the next morning.
The sheriff said prosecutors decided not to bring charges because the death was an accident. After working with Kela for four years, Williams considered the dog his partner. He was devastated by the death, the sheriff said.
Williams has been reassigned since the incident to serve as a courthouse bailiff. But some think he should be punished.
“I just think it’s crazy, because they get on everyone else for leaving their animals in the car and dying, and they want to throw them in jail, but they can’t do nothing about their own officer that kills one of their K9s,” Michael Foss told ABC.
Unfortunately, the tragic North Carolina incident isn’t the only case of a police dog dying from heat stroke after being left in a hot car. There were at least two other deaths in recent months, one in Wyoming and another in Arizona.
A Mills, Wyo., police officer was charged with animal cruelty in August after leaving his partner, a black lab trained to sniff narcotics, locked in a hot car for more than six hours in July.
According to the Star-Tribune, Officer Zachary Miller allegedly left the dog in the car in the cooler early morning hours with the windows rolled up and no air conditioning turned on, though the car was running.
Meanwhile, the officer was inside the police station, where dogs are allowed, training another officer. By the time he returned to the car midday, the dog was dead. The dog, Nyx, lived with Miller’s family and had been with the department for seven years, the Billings Gazette reported. Miller pleaded not guilty to the charges. He was suspended with pay for a week by the department. Mills Police Chief Bryon Preciado told the Tribune that Nyx was the department’s only police dog, and that alarms that alert the dog’s human handlers when temperatures become unsafe would be installed in K9 patrol cars before they get another dog.
Arizona police officer Jesse Dorantes left his dog in a police SUV for seven hours in April. He said he forgot the dog was in the car when he left in his personal vehicle to care for his sick child, KTAR reported. When he finally remembered and called his boss to check on the dog, the animal was dead. Prosecutors decided not to bring animal cruelty charges after reviewing a 2007 case involving a cop and a K9 in which the officer was acquitted.
The Humane Society warns animals should never be left in a parked car — not even for a minute.