A six-year-old police K-9 was found dead after being left in an officer’s hot car in California.
Ozzy the police dog worked with the Long Beach Police Department and was found in the car on the afternoon of August 14, however authorities did not announce the news until yesterday (August 23).
Ozzy and the officer in charge of him were off-duty at the time but the K-9 had been left in the department-issued vehicle.
According to the LA Times, mid-afternoon temperatures in Long Beach that day were between 27°C (81°F) and 28°C (84°F).
Long Beach police public information officer Arantxa Chavarria released a statement on the matter, explaining a veterinarian examination and preliminary results determined Ozzy’s cause of death to be heat-related.
It’s not clear how long the dog had been left in the vehicle but the charity Dogs Trust warn even just a few minutes in a hot car can prove fatal.
This weekend is set to be a scorcher with temperatures rising to a whopping 33C in some areas of the UK. The heat is on to spread the message, please RT to help save a dog's life, and call 999 if you see a dog in distress in a hot car! https://t.co/hlco1P6Jmq #DogsDieInHotCars pic.twitter.com/XDnxwSer7e
— RSPCA (England & Wales) (@RSPCA_official) August 22, 2019
Chavarria explained the police’s K-9 vehicles are fitted with ‘fail-safe equipment’, which includes a heat-controller system that uses a mobile phone app to signal when the vehicle is getting too warm.
However, the public information officer said they believe the alert may not have been working when Ozzy was in the car.
We ask that you respect the handler and his family.
Our department is mourning Ozzy’s loss as we would with any of our employees. Our K-9s are an indispensable part of our department, and we will continue to view them as partners.
Since the dog’s death, all K-9 handlers have reportedly been checking their vehicle’s heat system controllers before every shift. Chavarria did not explain whether leaving a K-9 alone in this type of vehicle was standard practice.
Dogs Trust Veterinary Director Paula Boyden spoke on the subject of leaving dogs in cars, saying:
We all want to have fun and head out with our dogs whatever the weather, but sadly every year we hear of dogs getting in distress because they are left in cars on warm days.
Many people still believe it’s OK if the windows are left open or they’re parked in the shade, but the truth is, it’s not and we strongly advise that dog owners should never leave their dog in a car on a warm day, even if it feels cool outside.
Did you know: The temperature inside your car can increase by 10 degrees in just 10 minutes? 😓
— PDSA (@PDSA_HQ) August 23, 2019
According to California Legislature, it is illegal in California to leave an animal unattended in a vehicle ‘under conditions that endanger the health or well-being of an animal’.
The Signal Tribune wrote about Ozzy in October, explaining he had been with the Long Beach Police Department for five years. Sgt. Timothy Long described the dog as having a ‘big heart’ and loving people.
An investigation into the dog’s death is now underway.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.