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Tragedy of the dogs left to die

MANY PEOPLE were left stunned after two police dogs died in soaring temperatures last week, after being left in a vehicle parked outside the headquarters of Nottinghamshire Police.

An RSPCA officer was called to the Sherwood Lodge headquarters last Tuesday and found the two German shepherd dogs already dead. An independent vet was to carry out post-mortem tests to establish how the animals died.

Nottinghamshire's Assistant Chief Constable, Peter Davies, said: ‘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.’
In a statement released later, Nottinghamshire Police said the welfare of all of its animals was ‘of paramount importance’ and said that the force, ‘endeavours to take every measure possible to ensure their well-being and safety.’

The dogs were found dead in a private car belonging to their handler, which was parked just yards from a new set of kennels at the force's HQ. Nottinghamshire vet Andrew Wilson said that dehydration would have been a big factor. He also said that police were co-operating with all enquiries.

An RSPCA spokesperson said: ‘The dogs wouldn't be able to cool themselves because panting wouldn't be effective anymore, 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.’
A spokesman for the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said the matter had been referred to them on Tuesday afternoon and they were considering it.

Chairman of the Nottinghamshire Police Authority, 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. In the meantime we are requiring a guarantee from the force that measures are being put in place immediately to ensure that an incident like this can never happen again.’

In June last year Nottinghamshire Police made a public appeal for German Shepherd dogs to be donated to increase the number of working dogs in the force. The maximum sentence for causing unnecessary suffering to an animal is six months in prison and a £20,000 fine.
It has also been reported that a dog died after being left in a car in Chichester during the hot weather at the end of last week.

The RSPCA has been inundated with calls from members of the public who are worried about animals which have been trapped in hot environments such as cars or gardens without shade.
The Society received a whopping total of 1,058 calls with concerns for the welfare of dogs in the hot weather throughout June. 109 of those calls were taken last Monday (June 29) when temperatures topped 30 degrees. More than 250 calls were also received regarding other animals suffering in the heat.

Stopped judging

Reports from Blackpool and Windsor also confirmed that tannoy announcements urging exhibitors to return to distressed dogs in the car parks could be heard throughout the day. Exhibitor Clare Osborne told Our Dogs: ‘What’s so shocking is, after the week we’ve had, that at Windsor the tannoy didn’t stop hollering for people who, let’s face it, should know better. i was even more shocked to hear two exhibitors saying that the dogs were happy and sleeping in a van, and why couldn’t the committee “just stop moaning about it.”’

Another reader, Richard Chilly-Chelumbrum, told us: ‘There should be a total ban on leaving dogs in cars. However, I’m not sure that a fine of £1,000 would a) get passed and b) who would take charge of the money? I think number plates in registrations is a great idea in principle; however, it would be extremely hard to police. As for the notion that those that leave dogs in their cars be barred from shows for any period of time, not fair at all! Not fair on the dogs! The owners should be banned from owning animals completely, this is irresponsible ownership and if done once, it will happen again. I read an article a couple of days ago about a vet who performed a postmortom on a dog who had passed away in a hot car 10 minutes earlier, the surgeon scolded his hands on the dog’s blood! Conclusion? They boil to death!’

The committee of Windsor were praised for their positive action guarding against such tragedy, after judging was halted several times during the day in order to wait for people to collect their dogs from cars and vans. Gary Gray, Windsor Show Manager, told us: ‘It happened in the Great Dane, Dobermann and Boxer Police dogs die in car rings and, to be honest, i think it was a very pro-active action. People just weren’t listening to the announcements, it was as simple as that. They were not listening to the rules...we stopped the judging in each case, and it worked every time.”

Dog lovers have also been left speechless after reports that a vet has recently escaped with a caution after the death of one of his labradors, which was left in a car for six hours on a hot day in 2007.

Both the RSPCA and the RCVS have been accused of being too lenient in their treatment of a case which echoes the police dog case.

The vet’s two labradors had to be given emergency treatment after they were rescued from his car in May 2007. A nine-month-old male, could not be saved. The RSPCA has consistently urged owners never to leave dogs in their vehicles. They say that opening a window or providing a bowl of water inside a car is not sufficient to stop animals overheating. Those who are prosecuted and found guilty of allowing their dogs to suffer face a maximum penalty of six months in jail or a £20,000 fine.

The RSPCA insisted it showed “neither fear nor favour” in dealing with such cases. A spokesman said this case was “treated like any other case”. He said punishments could vary from a caution to a full prosecution, but if someone admitted guilt and showed remorse it might lead to leniency.
The RCVS declined to comment because the case was now closed.

One of top US Akitas dies

In America, seven show dogs, including one of the top Akitas in the country, were pronouncded dead after being left by their handler for several hours in a hot van in Jefferson County. Police say a 24-year-old woman who was caring for the dogs, left them in a cargo van early Monday and went to bed after returning from a dog show in Iowa.

The dogs likely died of heat stroke, a veterinarian said, although autopsies were pending. The dogs included three golden retrievers, a dalmation, a Siberian Husky, a Malamute and the top-ranked Akita – Ch Mystik’s Jersey Had-Ta-Go-To Gekko (Jersey). One dog, a Siberian Husky, survived and is undergoing tests for liver failure.

Wild, who is paid to handle the dogs at shows, told police that, after returning from her Iowa road trip, she started to transfer the dogs in kennels into the garage of a home but it was so hot, she later told police, that she instead decided to leave them in their portable kennels in the van.She told police she put six electric fans in the van to keep the dogs cool. She also left a door open to the van and the van’s windows partly open.

She left them in the van about 1 a.m. Monday and went inside the home to sleep. She told police that, three hours later, she went outside to check on the dogs. They were fine, she told police. Then, about 6:30 a.m., all eight dogs were in distress. She found five of the dogs breathing, but not responsive. The other three were clearly in distress, but could at least raise their heads.
She tried reviving the dogs, by hosing them down, then took them to a veterinarian in House Springs. Only one of the eight survived.

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I am absolutely appalled at the two GSD police dogs who where left to die in a car.
How on earth can anyone even with half a brain cell leave two beautiful dogs in a car on the hottest day of the year.
It absolutely beggars belief that a professional dog handler could do such a thing.
No point in everyone expressing regret and stating steps will be taken to ensure it does not happen again.  The question is why did it happen in the first place.
Should be fully investigated with the results made known and the RSPCA should do the job it is paid for and prosecute.
No excuse for this kind of tragedy whatsoever.
RIP poor dogs you where so very badly let down by those who where paid to ensure your welfare.
As regards the poor dogs dying at a show where were the show stewards who surely must have noticed the dogs where left.
To have happened at a dog show with supposed dog lovers there gives grave cause for concern.

Sylvie Powell

Of course such incidents are appalling, but its worth noting that at agility and obedience show competitors routinely leave their dogs in cars and vans most of the day at shows. We are set up for it. The dogs do not come to harm. They are *far* safer and better off than on a showground in crates or on benches. If there was a routine ban on it what would happen? *Thousands* of dogs which attend these events every weekend would have to stay outside their cars or vans all day...where? In crates...covered? in the sun? In the rain? A well set up van, with suitable secured caging and window coverings, doors open, maybe with fans, does the job of keeping the dog cool, secure, comfortable and in the shade. I cannot remember hearing of any dogs at agility or obedience shows succumbing to the heat in the way I have at breed shows. Maybe the difference is we stay near our dogs, next to our vans or cars, most of the day, chatting, socialising and training our dogs, so our dogs' welfare can be monitored, and parking is always as near to the rings as possible.

Paddy Driscoll