Police dogs die after being shut in hot car

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The Independent Online

Two police dogs have died after they were left in a car by their handlers on one of the hottest days of the year.

The Metropolitan Police animals, a working Belgian Malanois and a German Shepherd puppy, were found on Sunday collapsed in an unventilated vehicle at the force's training centre in Keston, Kent.

A Met Police spokesperson said officers at the building broke into the car after being alerted to the dogs being left unventilated, where they were found in a state of collapse.

"Both were taken to an emergency vets where they subsequently died," the spokesperson said, adding: "An investigation by the Directorate of Professional Standards into the circumstances of this incident has begun."

The deaths follow those of two German Shepherd police dogs, who were left to die in a baking hot car outside Nottinghamshire Police headquarters in July 2009.

A spokeswoman from the Dogs Trust, the UK's largest dog welfare charity, said it was "saddened" to hear of the two latest deaths. She added: "Whilst the cause of death is still to be determined, the charity would like to remind dog owners and police dog handlers that leaving your dog in a car can prove rapidly fatal, particularly during a heatwave. It can take just 20 minutes for a dog to die and temperatures can reach over 40 degrees in some vehicles."

Police dog handler PC Mark Johnson was handed a six-month conditional discharge after he was found guilty of animal cruelty in relation to the deaths of the two dogs in Nottinghamshire.

During his trial in February last year, Nottingham Magistrates' Court was told he suffered from depression and obsessive compulsive disorder, which led to him forgetting that he had left the dogs in his car outside Nottinghamshire Police's Sherwood Lodge headquarters, near Arnold, as temperatures reached 29.3C.

Sunday was the hottest day of this year, until yesterday, with the mercury rising to the late 20s in the south-east.

The Dogs Trust have issued guidance in anticipation of the hot weather, saying there were three essential things for those looking after dogs to remember.

These are to walk the animals in the morning or evening when it is cooler, clipping long fur and applying canine sun cream to areas most likely to burn, and to be extra vigilant with short nosed, older and overweight dogs as they are more prone to overheat.

If a dog shows signs of distress such as excessive panting, blueness of the tongue or collapses, a vet should be contacted immediately.