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A police dog has died in a hot patrol car for the second time in a week

Preventing hot car deaths
Alarm system aims to prevent hot car deaths 01:50

Another police dog has died this month after being left inside an officer's hot patrol car, authorities said. The K-9, named Aron, was four years old and had worked for a year and a half with the Houston Police Department.

"On June 12, 2023, we lost a member of our K-9 family in a tragic accident," the department said in a statement. "Houston Police Department K-9 Aron, 4 years of age with 1.5 years of police service at the department, passed away from heat exhaustion."

The K-9's handler discovered the dog "in distress" Monday inside the patrol car, which should have been running with the air conditioning system switched on as long as the animal remained there. Leaving a police dog in its handler's vehicle "is a necessary and common practice when the K-9 partner is not actively engaged in police work," police said Houston Police. But, when Aron's handler returned to the car, they discovered that the engine had switched off in their absence, causing the air conditioning to shut down as well. 

Normally, patrol cars where K-9 dogs are kept have a backup system for emergency scenarios like this one. The system "notifies the handler, sounds the horn, activates cooling fans, and rolls down the car windows, if for some reason the vehicle shuts down," according to Houston Police, which noted that in this instance, the backup mechanisms malfunctioned too. Although police transported Aron to a veterinary clinic after finding the dog in distress, the animal died from heat exhaustion.

The Houston Police Department said it is investigating the incident to determine how and why the patrol car's engine suddenly switched off without triggering the emergency cooling system, and to prevent a similar incident from happening again in the future. All patrol cars that transport K-9 dogs for Houston Police will be inspected by the vendor for potential problems.

"Please keep Aron's handler and the entire K-9 team in your prayers as they mourn the loss of Aron," Houston Police said.

Aron's death from heat exhaustion marked the second time in the span of a week that a police K-9 dog died from heat-related injuries, after being left in a patrol car. 

On June 5, a K-9 named Chase, assigned to the Cobb County Police Department in Georgia, was found unresponsive inside its handler's vehicle when the car shut off without triggering the emergency cooling system. The dog was later declared dead from "heat-related injuries," the Cobb County Police Department said.

Investigators found that the patrol vehicle "had multiple failures" that caused the K-9's death, which Cobb County police called "a horrible incident."

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