PETA: At Least 19 Police Dogs Have Died in Hot Cars

After a Hialeah cop left his two K-9 partners in a hot car all day, killing them, PETA is advocating for police departments to install heat alarms in K-9 unit vehicles. The animal rights organization says several K-9s die every year from being left in hot police cars.

On the morning of May 28, Hialeah officer Nelson Enriquez had worked all night on a missing person's case. But when he went inside his Davie house, he left his two K-9s – a 7-year-old bloodhound and 4-year-old Belgian Malinouix – in the car with the windows rolled up. It wasn't until the late afternoon, according to reports, that Enriquez checked on the dogs. By then, it was too late. The dogs were dead.

Enriquez is on paid administrative leave pending an investigation by the Davie Police Department. But it's unlikely anything much will happen. As we pointed out before, police who harm K-9s, whether intentionally or not, rarely get serious punishment, despite the urban myth that killing a K-9 is a crime equivalent to  killing a police officer. (The truth is that killing a K-9 is technically only a third-degree felony – but when non-police officers do it, other crimes are included and charges are often enhanced).

PETA, meanwhile, took the opportunity to advocate for heat alarm systems in K-9 unit vehicles to prevent these deaths which happen on a frighteningly regular basis.

“No K9 officer should experience an agonizing death locked inside a hot car, and a heat-alert system is an easy way to prevent that,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA hopes police and K9 agencies everywhere will join us in promoting the protection of these brave and loyal dogs by endorsing the installation of these lifesaving systems in every single K9 patrol car.”

K-9 handlers often leave their dogs in the car with the A/C running when they have to answer calls. But sometimes, the A/C can break, leaving the dog in serious danger. So PETA says police departments should consider placing heat warning systems in vehicles that automatically roll down windows and turns on an emergency fan when the A/C breaks down. The pro-animal group also recommend hanging up posters in police departments to remind handlers not to kill their dogs by leaving them in a hot car.

According to PETA, 19 K-9 officers were killed from being left in hot police cars between 2012 and 2014.  Only two of the handlers were charged with animal cruelty and both pled not guilty. Both of the cases are still pending.

In the most egregious of the 12 cases, a Warwick, Georgia cop left his K-9 partner in the car for several days. When he finally decided to check on the dog, she was dead and decomposing:

Warwick Police Department K9 Officer Sasha, an 8-year-old German shepherd, died of heat exhaustion after being left unattended in her handler’s vehicle for several days. Lieutenant Thomas Frye had left her in the SUV over the weekend and found her decomposing body as he headed to work on Monday. Sasha had previously
worked as a K9 officer in Miami, where she had been retired because of her fear of thunder. The Animal Control Officer assigned to the investigation, upon seeing the interior of the vehicle where Sasha died, remarked, “It really makes me sick … it makes me sick to my stomach.” Sasha had clawed through parts of the seats, bitten
through seatbelts, ripped off chunks of leather from the seats, and torn off the rear view mirror as she attempted to escape. After burying Sasha in his backyard, Lt.
Frye resigned.
You can read the rest of the tragic tales of police leaving dogs in hot cars below: