PETA Alerts Police Nationwide to Dangers of Leaving K9 Officers in Hot Cars

Group Pushes Installation of State-of-the-Art Monitors to Save Lives

For Immediate Release:
June 20, 2013

Sophia Charchuk 202-483-7382

Norfolk, Va. — PETA has sent an urgent letter to 500 police agencies across the country alerting them to the perils of leaving K9 officers in unattended patrol cars during warm weather. Included with the letter—which points out that in 2012 alone there were numerous news reports of heat-related deaths of K9 officers—is a poster that shows a police officer and his K9 partner standing next to a squad car and reads, “Please Remember: Hot Cars Kill.” The poster goes on to explain how the temperature inside a parked vehicle can shoot sky-high within minutes and that a dog trapped inside can endure an agonizing and terrifying death. PETA recommends that all K9 unit cars be equipped with the latest heat-monitoring systems, which can page the police officer—and even open a door—if the vehicle shuts off or the air-conditioning system malfunctions.

“We depend on our partners to keep us safe and they depend on us to keep them safe,” says Kevin Johnson, national president of the United States Police Canine Association. “Please, take a few minutes to remember your partner and do not leave them behind.”

In one 2012 incident cited by PETA, a police lieutenant in Georgia discovered his K9 partner, Sasha, dead in his patrol car. Before dying from heat exhaustion, Sasha clawed through the seats, bit through the seatbelts, and tore off the rearview mirror in a desperate attempt to escape. Just this week—and also in Georgia—a K9 officer named Spartacus was found dead from heatstroke in his handler’s car.

Every year, PETA receives reports of dogs who have died after being left alone in a car on a warm day—even when the windows are left slightly open or the car is parked in the shade. Dogs can succumb to heatstroke in just 15 minutes and sustain brain damage as a result. On a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a shaded car is 90 degrees, and the inside of a car parked in the sun can reach 160 degrees in minutes. Symptoms of heatstroke include restlessness, excessive thirst, heavy panting, lethargy, lack of appetite, a dark tongue, vomiting, and lack of coordination.

PETA’s letter to the police departments is available upon request. For more information, please visit



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