News broke last week out of Mercer County, in western Ohio, that a hot car had claimed yet another dog's life — this time, that of a K-9 unit.
K-9 Zak had been left inside a parked patrol car on Wednesday afternoon while his handler, Deputy Chad Fortkamp, finished a traffic crash report inside the sheriff's office.
“When at the office, the car is either left running with air conditioning on or Zak comes into the building,” said Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey in his press release.
But this car was not running, Sheriff Grey said — and about 1 p.m., when the deputy returned to his car and found K-9 Zak deceased, temperatures outside ranged between 85 and 95 degrees.
K-9 Zak had a known heart condition, and you'd think he would have gotten proper consideration for that, at least. But even “a perfectly healthy dog probably would not have survived the heat,” according to the veterinarian who performed K-9 Zak's autospy.
Less than two weeks ago, similar news came out of Texas, that two Belgian Malinois K-9s had died inside a hot county SUV parked outside the home of Bexar County Deputy Steve Benoy, who has since received 10 days of administrative leave.
Guys... in summer, it is never OK to leave your dog in a parked car for any length of time.
The science is simple. Dogs don't sweat like humans; they can only cool off through panting and through the pads of their feet.
High temperatures easily damage their nerves, heart, liver and brain, and heat stroke can take less than 10 minutes to end their lives.
This happens thousands of times a year — and all of these deaths are absolutely preventable.
If you're a dog owner, I shouldn't have to tell you to do right by your dog.
If you see a dog in distress in a hot car, call 9-1-1 immediately.
And in honor of these three lost K-9s today, please link your Facebook or Twitter pages to www.MyDogIsCool.com.
In addition to a ready-made Facebook cover image featuring its important message, awesome resources on this website include:
How Hot Do Cars Get? — Cracked windows have very little effect on a car's internal temperature, and even mild outdoor temperatures can be fatal; at 72 degrees, a car's internal temperature can climb to 116 in just an hour. It's like an oven in there!
Take the Pledge — Add your photo to this gallery of well-loved dogs and their certificates of safety.
Take Action — Awareness is key, and fliers and posters are free!
K-9 Zak was Mercer County's second dog lost in two years; K-9 Bleck died of intestinal obstruction in 2010. As a result, Mercer County has now suspended its K-9 program — a great loss to a community that was lucky to have one.
An internal investigation will determine what disciplinary action Deputy Fortkamp will receive.
Sheriff Grey concluded his statement by apologizing to the Moose Lodge, the Eagles of Celina and others who helped fund Zak's purchase with more than $6,500. “It is my intent to get answers as to what happened,” he said.
For those as angry as I am, Sheriff Grey promises those answers will be made public among the press releases on his county website.