Safeguarding K-9 Officers Area’s K-9 Officers

More and more local law enforcement agencies are adding K-9 “officers” to their staffs because dogs have a variety of abilities human beings do not. They also have special needs, however.

A tragedy last week reminded area residents of that. A Hancock County Sheriff’s Department K-9, Midas, died after becoming overheated while left in a hot patrol vehicle.

It was not that Midas’ handler failed to take safety precautions. First, the cruiser’s air conditioning was left on to keep the interior cool. Second, a backup system was supposed to lower the car’s two rear windows, switch on a fan and sound an alarm if the air conditioning failed.

Both the air conditioning and the backup system failed.

Our check of police and sheriff’s departments in our area revealed all take the safety of K-9 officers very seriously. Handlers are trained in how to care for the dogs. Special equipment is used for them.

But some agencies use safety equipment similar to that upon which the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department relied.

Clearly, a review of K-9 procedures and equipment is necessary. If what everyone involved thought was a fail-safe system failed in Hancock County, the same thing could happen elsewhere.

When the inside of a vehicle becomes too hot for safety, human beings can respond in several ways. For one, they can simply open the door and get out.

Dogs cannot do that. Their importance to law enforcement and simple humanity toward animals dictate that the K-9s serving us be protected.

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