By Paula Moore
All K-9 officers have an inherently dangerous job, but when you're a canine K-9 officer, being cooked to death shouldn't be among the perils you face. Yet dogs—including police dogs—die every year after being left alone in cars on scorching summer days. An officer may enter a building to interview a complainant or to respond to an emergency call. The officer leaves the car running with the air conditioning on full blast, but in some instances the engine dies—and because the department has failed to fit the car with a warning device or auxiliary system, so does the dog. Already this summer, police dogs in Tennessee, Florida, and Alabama as well as a U.S. Customs drug-sniffing dog in Texas have suffered prolonged, panic-stricken deaths in patrol cars while their human partners stepped away.
PETA wants to prevent more deaths, so we've sent law enforcement agencies across the U.S. urgent information about heat monitoring and warning systems. Ideally, of course, dogs would never be left unattended in vehicles. But if police work should leave an officer with no other choice, these devices can save a dog's life—by sounding an alarm, paging the officer, starting the car's engine, rolling down a window, or popping open a door when the temperature inside the car begins to reach dangerous levels.
You, too, can help prevent animal 9-1-1s by ordering PETA's free "Too Hot for Spot" action kit. And remember, if you do see a dog who's been left in a hot car, take action: Call local police or humane authorities right away. While you're at it, ask your local police department to post an advisory to all K-9 officers.