By Sharon Ko
MEDFORD, Ore. — A police dog in Tuscon, Arizona is put down after he was left in a hot patrol car for an hour, but technology is helping local police reduce chances of it happening in Medford.
The Tuscon officer responded to an emergency call and forgot the dog in another vehicle. The officer rushed his dog to a veterinarian but the damage was done. Reports say he is devastated.
“The person who’s being harder on that officer than anybody else is that officer, guaranteed,” says Medford Police Sgt. Brent Mak. “You talk to any canine handler and they will tell you, that is their partner.”
Temperatures inside a car at 92 degrees can climb 20 degrees in ten minutes. But Medford Police make sure their vehicles never reach those levels.
“The officer has basically a little indicator on his belt that he has on him at all times,” Sgt. Mak explains. The indicator is connected to a temperature gauge inside the car. “If it goes above a certain temperature it actually notifies the officer,” he says.
Medford police officers say animals stuck in cars are a common occurrence.
“We’ve had incidents where officers have responded, couldn’t find the owner and broken windows to cars,” Sgt. Mak says.
Residents say they see it happen all too often.
“You see a dog that’s suffering or some sort of animal suffering it’s no different than anybody else suffering,” says local parent, Jeff Berry.
Police say if you feel like the dog is in danger call 911.
“You can’t go around smashing car windows,” says Sgt. Mak. But if officers cannot respond in time, Sgt. Mak says it should be the citizens call.
“I might do it. I wouldn’t say that I wouldn’t break the window,” says Sgt. Mak.
Consequences for pet owners can lead to misdemeanor charges with time in jail and a fine.
“And for good cause. I mean lets face it, some people, their pet is their child,” says Berry.
As for the Tucson police officer, he is currently on administrative leave. The Tucson Police Department is conducting a criminal investigation into this incident.