Police dog handler faces prosecution over deaths of two German shepherds left in car on hottest day of the year
By DAILY MAIL UK
A police dog handler will be quizzed by the RSPCA and could face prosecution after two German shepherds were left to die in a car outside force headquarters on the hottest day of the year.
The dogs, which had been donated to the force, were found dead in a car parked outside Nottinghamshire Police headquarters.
It is unclear how long they had been left in the car as outside temperaturesrose to 29C (84F). The RSPCA said temperatures inside the car could have soared to 47C (116F).
Tribute: Police dog handlers lay flowers for the dead animals today outside Sherwood Lodge, Nottinghamshire Police’s HQ
The police dog handler was off duty but had called into the HQ at Sherwood Lodge, in Arnold, Nottingham.
Today officers paid tribute to the dogs, laying a bunch of flowers under a tree near to where the canines perished in agonisingly hot conditions.
The car park the dogs were left in is shaded in parts and only yards away from the force’s new £300,000 kennels.
The dogs, who have not been named to protect the identity of the handler at the centre of the investigation, were donated to the force carry out police work, including tracking criminals and providing security at major events in the county.
The RSPCA has launched an investigation and will quiz the officer involved, who was not at work today.
The case was originally handed to the Independent Police Complaints Commission to investigate, but it was later referred back to the force.
No-one has been suspended following the deaths, although the force said the investigation could lead to a prosecution.
Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, anyone found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal can face up to six months in prison or a fine of up to £20,000.
Police dog handler Tony Crowshaw with Guido, pays tribute to the animals
Chief Superintendent Ak Khan said the force was upset by the deaths of the two dogs.
He spoke outside the force’s HQ shortly after dog handler PC Tony Crowshaw appeared with Guido, an eight-year-old Belgian Malinois, which is similar to a German Shepherd.
A bouquet of flowers, including lilies and chrysanthemums, was then laid outside the Sherwood Lodge HQ.
Mr Khan said: ‘This has caused understandable upset and shock to all concerned.
‘We are taking the matter very seriously and we can understand the upset that this has caused. We will certainly learn any lessons and make sure this never happens again.’
Assistant Chief Constable Peter Davies added: ‘This is a tragic incident and we value the important work our police dogs carry out on a daily basis.
‘That is why we swiftly reported this incident to the RSPCA and we will be working with them very closely.’
Nottinghamshire vet Andrew Wilson told the BBC: ‘Dehydration would have been a big factor.
‘They wouldn’t be able to cool themselves because panting wouldn’t be effective any more, there would be no evaporation from the tongue.
‘As the core temperature rose as a result of that, and the brain temperature rose, the brain would cease to function and various other organs would fail. This happens certainly within 30 minutes.’
Tragic: Flowers laid by the force’s dog handlers
Police refused to confirm what type of vehicle was involved.
The police laid a bunch of white lilies, chrysanthemums and gypsophila outside the force’s headquarters today. Members of the public were told they could also lay flowers outside the HQ if they wished.
Nottinghamshire Police Authority has asked the force for a guarantee that action was being taken immediately.
The authority’s chairman, Councillor John Clarke, said: ‘This is a truly tragic incident. I am deeply disturbed to learn of the deaths of these police dogs, which play such a vital role in the fight against crime.
‘The RSPCA has been informed and will, I am sure, carry out a thorough and speedy investigation.
‘The authority has asked to be provided at the appropriate time with a full report into the circumstances.’
He added: ‘I think there will be some retribution for this at some point in the future.
Probe: Nottinghamshire Police’s Sherwood Lodge HQ today
‘But I know the team will be mortified. It’s a very close-knit team.
‘It’s tragic when you consider we have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on kennels. Unfortunately tragedies do happen.’
A spokesman for the IPCC said Nottinghamshire Police had referred the case to the commission yesterday and added: ‘We have decided it is appropriate for this sad incident to be returned to the police force to carry out its own local investigation.’
A spokesman for the force said: ‘Nottinghamshire Police reported the death of two German shepherd police dogs to the RSPCA on Tuesday, June 30, after they were discovered at force headquarters at 2.15pm.
‘The incident has also been voluntarily referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
No escape: The dogs were left in a handler’s vehicle (file picture)
‘The welfare of all animals owned by Nottinghamshire Police is of paramount importance and we endeavour to take every measure possible to ensure their well-being and safety.’
The force, which now has 24 dogs and 35 staff in the section, has no breeding programme and relies on members of the public to donate their pets.
It takes nine weeks of intensive training and costs more than £7,000 before a police dog can go out on patrol.
The force also revealed that it had received several calls from members of the public angry at what had happened.
An RSPCA spokeswoman warned: ‘When it’s sunny or warm outside, we would urge dog owners not to leave a dog in a car.
‘It can cause health problems and prove fatal. Temperatures can rise to 47C in a car quite quickly and that is enough to kill a dog.’
The Dogs Trust today warned dog owners during the heatwave to walk their pets in the cooler morning and evening, and to ensure they have access to shade and water.
Thick fur should be clipped and canine sun cream should be applied to ears, nose and belly – but human sun cream can be toxic to dogs.
Older and overweight dogs are more prone to overheat. Excessive panting, blueness of the tongue or collapse should prompt an immediate call to the vet.
In emergencies, dogs should be soaked with water, fanned with cool air and rushed to a vet.