K-9 Police Dog Dies After Being Left in Hot Car
Read about the tragic passing of one police dog that could totally have been prevented.Published August 7, 2012
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A crucial factor in keeping pets safe is to never leave them in a car alone and unattended. Even if the weather seems cloudy and fairly cool, even with the car windows left open, the heat inside a parked car can quickly rise to extremely dangerous and potentially fatal levels. It’s never safe to leave the air conditioner running since the engine could easily stall, leaving the pet to “fry” in the overwhelming heat.
Bearing the above statement in mind, one could logically conclude that trained K-9 police units would most certainly be aware of the inherent risks and the certain danger of leaving a dog unattended in a car, and never would do so.
Incredibly, however, on August 2, the Dayton Ohio Daily News released the shocking story about a police dog who died after being left alone by his handler in a hot patrol car.
Jeff Grey, Mercer County Sheriff, said that Zak, a K-9 unit, was found dead by his handler, Deputy Chad Fortkamp, in his patrol car last Wednesday at the Celina, Ohio Sheriff's office. Fortkamp left the dog in his patrol car while he was completing his report about a traffic accident. Grey said, "When at the office, the car is either left running with the air conditioning on, or Zak comes into the building."
But the car was not running when Zak's dead body was discovered. The outside temperature ranged from 85-95 degrees on the day Zak died. Did the engine stop running? Did Fortkamp just leave the dog in the car with the engine off? Perhaps the investigation by the sheriff’s department will shed light on what really happened.
Zak’s heart condition was discovered during the necropsy which the Sheriff’s office had previously been aware. While the heat may have exacerbated Zak’s heart condition, the examining veterinarian noted that even a dog in top condition would have succumbed to the sweltering heat inside the car.
While an investigation is pending by the sheriff’s department, the K-9 program has been suspended indefinitely. But if the sheriff’s department protocol was never to leave a dog in a car unattended, this tragic death never would have occurred.
The hot and humid days of the summer peak during the month of August. The month is commonly referred to as the “Dog Days of Summer” for an excellent reason since August is usually the hottest, stickiest and most dangerous time of the year for cats and dogs.
The Director of Emergency Services at Penn Vet's Ryan Hospital, Kenneth J. Drobatz, DVM said, “We see several cases of heat exhaustion or heatstroke every summer in Emergency Services. In most cases, a trip to the emergency room with your dog or cat can be avoided if an owner takes a couple of tips to heart."
Some of these tips include:
Keep plenty of cool, clean water daily available for pets. It’s only common sense to walk dogs during the coolest parts of the day--early in the morning, or late in the evening. And while keeping your air conditioner running, even when you’re not home, may run up the electric bill, it can prevent pets from being uncomfortable or dangerously overheated. Additionally, skip the exercise and strenuous play with pets when the weather is unbearably hot.
How do you keep your pets cool during the “dog days” of summer? Tell us in a comment.