Policeman accused over dogs' car deaths identified

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The Independent Online

The identity of a police dog handler facing animal cruelty charges after leaving two German shepherds to die in a baking car was revealed today.

Pc Mark Johnson, 40, is being prosecuted by the RSPCA after leaving the dogs in his vehicle at Nottinghamshire Police's headquarters in Arnold on 30 June.

Temperatures that day reached 29.3C (84.7F) and by the time the handler had returned to the car the dogs had died.

The animal charity has confirmed he will face charges of "causing unnecessary suffering" to the two dogs.

Pc Johnson's name was revealed by a national newspaper for the first time today, along with the names of his dogs - Jet, aged 10, and 18-month-old Jay-Jay.

The Daily Mail reported that Pc Johnson and Jet came third at last year's National Police Dog Championship and Jay-Jay was being trained to replace Jet.

Today the RSPCA and Nottinghamshire Police refused to comment.

The force previously said Pc Johnson was suspended and an internal inquiry was continuing into the incident.

If he is convicted, the officer could face a maximum sentence of six months in prison and a £20,000 fine.

Pc Johnson could also be banned from keeping animals.

Following the deaths, animal charities warned owners that it takes only 20 minutes for dogs to die in a car during a heatwave as temperatures can well exceed 40C (104F).