A police K-9 dog died of "heat-related injuries" inside an officer's vehicle this week after the air conditioning system stopped working, authorities in Georgia said.
The dog, named Chase, had been left in a patrol car belonging to one officer, who the Cobb County Police Department identified as Officer Neill in a news release. The incident happened Monday while Neill and other officers attended an active shooter training at a local high school.
"Officers had been at training since 11 a.m. and had been checking on their K9 partners on the hour for 15-minute breaks between each 45-minute training session," Cobby County police said. "At some point after the previous check, the air conditioning system malfunctioned in Officer Neill's patrol vehicle."
Preliminary information suggested that backup safety systems inside the patrol car did not activate properly when the air conditioning switched off, causing the temperature to rise quickly inside the vehicle, the police department said. At around 2 p.m., Neill's K-9 was found unresponsive in the car. Although Neill and other Cobb County officers attempted life-saving measures and the dog was then transported to an emergency veterinary clinic nearby, Chase died of heat-related injuries, police said.
Investigators found that the patrol vehicle "had multiple failures" that led to the K-9's death, which Cobb County police called "a horrible incident" and a "tragedy." The dog was transferred Monday from the Cobb County Animal Shelter to the University of Georgia for a necropsy.
The Cobb County Police Department explained that K-9s are typically kept inside a kennel in the back of an officer's patrol car while that officer is in the field, and the officer is tasked during that time with using the car's climate control system to adjust the temperature to a safe level.
A canine's handler "routinely returns to the vehicle to let the canine out of the vehicle and to check to verify the vehicle is still operating properly," according to the police department, which noted that a backup system in place in each patrol car is meant to act as a safeguard that automatically switches on should the air conditioning system fail. The safeguard activates the lights and sirens on the patrol car, automatically rolls the windows down, activates a fan inside the car and notifies the officer of a problem with their vehicle.
"Unfortunately, this vehicle had multiple failures, the alert system did not activate, and the handler was not alerted about an issue until they returned to the vehicle to check on the canine," the police department said.
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