Emergency Call to Police: Protect K9 Officers From Death in Hot Cars

PETA Asks K9 Officer Training Associations and Police Agencies to Endorse Installing Lifesaving Heat-Alert Systems in Patrol Cars

For Immediate Release:
June 2, 2015

Moira Colley 202-483-7382

Norfolk, Va.

In the last three years alone, at least 20 K9 officers experienced terrifying—and entirely preventable—deaths after being left in patrol cars on hot days. To prevent similar tragedies this summer, PETA contacted the National Association of Police Organizations, the National Police Canine Association, the American Police Canine Association, and other K9 officer organizations this morning with urgent information about the benefits of installing innovative heat-alert systems in patrol cars for when temperatures inside the vehicles climb. When activated, these systems sound an alarm, page an officer, attempt to start the car’s engine, and automatically roll down a window (video available here). PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—has also designed posters for K9 units to display in their offices to remind human officers that the heat inside vehicles can reach dangerous and even deadly levels in just minutes.

“No K9 officer should experience an agonizing death locked inside a hot car, and a heat-alert system is an easy way to prevent that,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA hopes police and K9 agencies everywhere will join us in promoting the protection of these brave and loyal dogs by endorsing the installation of these lifesaving systems in every single K9 patrol car.”

Dogs can only cool themselves by panting and sweating through their footpads. On a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can soar to between 100 and 120 degrees in just minutes, and on a 90-degree day, the interior temperature can reach as high as 160 degrees in less than 10 minutes. In Georgia, K9 officer Sasha died from heat exhaustion after her handler left her in his SUV over the weekend. Sasha clawed through parts of the seats, bit through seatbelts, and tore off the rear-view mirror in her frantic attempt to escape the vehicle. Last year in Delaware, K9 officer Caro died from heatstroke after he was left inside his handler’s vehicle for two hours on a 95-degree day. And in South Carolina, K9 officer Emma died from heat exhaustion after she was left inside her handler’s vehicle for about 90 minutes—although the car was running and the air conditioning was turned on, the air conditioning had malfunctioned.

Heat-alert systems are already in place in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, and Chesapeake, Virginia—where an officer told PETA, “Our canine partners are extremely valued members of our department. … We make every effort to provide the best possible care and protection of our partners.”

PETA’s letters are available upon request. For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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