“Air conditioners that fail”

Five police dogs died in 2015 as a result of being left in their cars and most of those incidents were related to heat and abandonment.  One handler was fired when his police dog died.  Other handlers have been disciplined and criminally prosecuted in the past in similar deaths.  I haven’t checked recent stats because I’m not sure I really want to know. 

With recent heat waves sweeping across the country, it’s a good time to remind you that air conditioners often fail despite best efforts and those failures may result in the deaths of police dogs even with best intentions of and frequent checks by handlers – and some of those prior deaths were attributed to negligence by the handlers.

Here’s an edited version of one fateful 2015 event;  “A 3-year-old police dog died in a squad car after the air-conditioning unit failed.  [The handler] had left the dog alone in the squad car with the engine and air conditioning running.  He returned around 12:30 p.m. and found [the dog] unresponsive in the back of the car.  The vehicle’s blower motor stopped working, and a heat alarm installed in the squad car did not activate.”

This “reason” should serve as a reminder for you to make sure your air conditioning unit works, your heat alarm is reliable, and you don’t rely exclusively on these “tools” to ensure the safety of the police dog left in a car during the heat.  

Yes, we can blame the air conditioners and alarms, but the handler is ultimately responsible for his/her dog and failure to check more frequently on the dog’s well-being could have deadly consequences and result in serious trouble for the handler.  I know agencies with very strict policies requiring frequent physical checks of dogs when left unattended in a car.  What are your written policies? What measures are you taking to make sure your dog is safe?

Take care, be safe, and make every day a training day…..

Bill Lewis II

This “reason” was originally shared on August 14, 2015, and updated on July 1, 2021.

“Trouble” isn’t always related to incidents or predicaments that directly result in lawsuits, claims or discipline. Often times, our actions or inactions that are missed, deliberately overlooked or downplayed may lead to nothing or can later lead to mistakes or bad incidents with minimal to serious repercussions.  A reason we get in trouble can be minor or simple at first glance – or even serious – but a combination of these factors can often have disastrous consequences.   

These “reasons” are provided periodically as a collection in-progress based on actual incidents and real attitudes as well as feedback received at HITS, the CNCA Training Institute, and the “Canine Liability 360” classes.  As Gordon Graham says, “We haven’t found new ways to get in trouble.” So, as the list progresses, you may or may not read something familiar to you that you have personally experienced or seen others encounter. If you encountered or heard about it, did you learn from it?