Staff and officers at the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office in Hillsboro, Illinois are grieving the loss of one of their canine officers after the dog died of heat exhaustion inside one of the unit’s patrol vehicles.
Two-year old ‘Blitz’ had been with the department under the care of his handler for about a year last Sunday when he was left alone in the back of a specially equipped kennel transport SUV for a few hours.
“It’s important to note that his handler is not at fault and that the deputy did everything he could right and according to standard procedure with K-9s,” Undersheriff Rick Robbins told ABC News. “It’s just a horrible, unfortunate event.”
On Sunday, Blitz was placed inside the kennel in the back of his handler’s specially equipped SUV while his officer handler went into the police station to work for a few hours. Following standard protocol, the officer left the vehicle running and the air conditioner on. The SUV was designed with a heat alarm system that, when the vehicle reached 90-degrees, should have automatically rolled down all four windows and activated lights and sirens.
When Blitz’s handler returned a few hours later, it was apparent that the system had malfunctioned. The K-9 was dead inside his kennel.
“It looks like there were multiple failures in equipment inside the vehicle,” Robbins said. “The A/C malfunctioned and was blowing hot air, and it looks like the heat alarm system failed and didn’t go off.”
An investigation into exactly what caused the system to malfunction is ongoing. However, police maintain that the dog’s handler was in no way responsible for the death.