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Two Dogs Bake In Police Cruiser - Help Prevent Similar Tragedies
By John Chapman, Officer.com
A police dog handler could be prosecuted for allowing two German Shepherds to die in the back of his car on one of the hottest day of the year.
It turned into a death-trap oven for the unattended dogs as temperatures soared up to 29C (84F).
The RSPCA yesterday described the deaths as tragic and said temperatures inside the police car could have reached 47C (116F). It renewed its pleas to owners not to leave pets in hot vehicles.
The Nottinghamshire Police HQ, which recently spent GBP 300,000 on new kennels, was flooded with complaints yesterday and the RSPCA has launched an inquiry into the incident.
It is believed one of the dogs which died was about to be retired. The other was about a year old and being trained.
They were found dead in the officer's vehicle in the staff car park at the force's Sherwood Lodge HQ near Arnold, Notts, on Tuesday.
It is unclear how long they had been left in the car. But experts believe they could have died within 30 minutes.
As the RSPCA began an inquiry the force was inundated with calls from angry members of the public demanding to know how the tragedy could have happened.
The handler, said to be a "very experienced" officer, was on duty when he left the dogs unattended in the car near the force's dog section where 26 animals are based.
He was not suspended but may now face criminal proceedings under the Animal Welfare Act.
Anyone found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal can face up to six months in prison or a fine of up to GBP 20,000.
The RSPCA is holding an inquiry alongside Nottinghamshire police's own investigation.
Yesterday an area was set aside outside the police headquarters where people could leave flowers.
The first tribute of white lilies and chrysanthemums was laid by Notts dog handler PC Tony Crowshaw who was with his eight-year-old Belgian Shepherd Guido.
Also present was Chief Superintendent Ak Khan, head of the force's Operational Support, who said: "This has caused immense upset to all concerned. I can understand that upset. We in the force are all very shocked. We are taking this incident very, very seriously."
"We will take any lessons from this tragedy, put them in place, and make sure it never happens again."
He added: "As well as the shock and sadness throughout the force, I know that is shared with some of the public." Chief Supt Khan said it would be up to the RSPCA to decide if the handler should be prosecuted.
Councillor John Clarke, chairman of Nottinghamshire police authority, said a full report into the circumstances had been requested.
"In the meantime, we are requiring a guarantee from the force that measures are being put in place immediately to ensure that an incident like this can never happen again, " he said. An independent vet is to carry out post-mortem tests to establish how the animals died.
A local vet, Andrew Wilson, said: "Dehydration would have been a big factor. The dogs wouldn't be able to cool themselves because panting would not be effective any more.
There would be no evaporation from the tongue.
"As the body core temperature rose as a result of that, and the brain temperature rose, the brain would cease to function and various other organs would fail. This happens certainly within 30 minutes".
RSPCA chief veterinary adviser Mark Evans said: "The temperature in a car can dramatically increase and rise to as much as 47C in less than an hour."
Debbie Waller, of the charity People And Dogs Together (PADS), said: "I would expect a prosecution to be considered."
On June 30, a Nottinghamshire police officer left two German Shepherds alone in his police car. The poor dogs were baked alive as temperatures inside the car likely soared above 100ļF. Both the RSPCA and the Nottinghamshire police department are investigating the incident, but the officer has not even been suspended yet. He may, however; face criminal charges under the Animal Welfare Act. (You can read about the incident here.)
Unfortunately, itís not unusual for dogs to die in hot cars during the summer months. Many people leave their animals unattended in parked cars while they stop at the store or run an errand, thinking theyíll "only be a few minutes." Thatís all it takes for a car to turn into a virtual oven, even if itís parked in the shade.
On a 73įF day, the inside of a parked car can reach around 100ļF in 10 minutes and 120ļF in 30 minutes. Dogs can only cool themselves by panting and sweating through their paw pads, so high temperatures are especially dangerous for them. They can succumb to heatstrokeówhich can result in brain damage or deathó in just 15 minutes.
Thatís why itís important to act quickly whenever you see a dog in a hot car. If the car is closed and you cannot safely get the dog out, jot down the carís color, model, make, and license plate number. If it is obvious which building the dogís guardian is in, go inside and urgently have the owner of the car paged.
This might seem awkward, but the dog's life could depend on itóbe persistent and do whatever is necessary to get him or her out of the car as quickly as possible. (However unpleasant the situation may seem for you, it cannot compare to being baked alive in a closed car.) Politely and promptly explain that you fear the dogís life is in danger. If necessary, offer to wait with the dog outside the building while the dogís guardian finishes his or her business. You can also call local humane authorities and/or police; it's their responsibility to respond to situations like this.
Once the dog is out of the car, get him or her to shade immediately and call a veterinarian if you see symptoms of heatstroke, such as restlessness, excessive thirst, heavy panting, lethargy, lack of appetite, dark tongue, rapid heartbeat, fever, vomiting, or lack of coordination. You can help lower the dogís body temperature gradually by giving him or her water to drink, applying a cold towel or ice pack to the head, neck and chest, or immersing the dog in tepid (not cold) water.
Of course, itís wise to work to prevent these dangerous situations from happening in the first place. Please order PETA's "Don't Let Your Dog Get Hot Under the Collar" leaflets, which can be placed on vehicles to remind people never to leave unattended animals inside.
You can also help spread the message by writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper and by contacting PETA or 757-622-7382 to find out how to get PETAís precautionary public service announcement starring Simon Cowell aired on your local television stations. And for more tips on keeping dogs safe and cool, see HelpingAnimals.com. The dog days of summer donít need to be deadly for dogs!
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