A 3-year old Belgian Malinois trained to track and detect bombs for the Brown Country Sheriff’s Office was found unresponsive in the back of his handler’s patrol car on Wednesday.
While veterinarians are performing tests to determine the exact cause of death, it appears that K-9 Wix died of heat stroke.
Wix and his partner had been contracted to work security at the PGA Championship in Haven. Wix was left in the vehicle, with the air conditioner running. However, the patrol car’s air conditioner somehow failed, along with a backup safety feature put in place to prevent this very tragedy from happening.
A K-9 heat alarm installed in the patrol car is supposed to warn the officer when there is a problem. At a preset temperature, the cars red and blue lights are to switch on, the horn is supposed to begin honking, and the windows are supposed to automatically roll down. All of these features failed.
“So we’re basically looking at two failures here, we’re trying to find out why stuff didn’t activate,”Capt. Daniel Sandberg said in a press conference Thursday.
Although authorities warn against leaving dogs unattended in vehicles, it is a common practice among K-9 officers.
An investigation will determine if the officer did anything wrong. For now, Capt. Sandberg says his deputy is mourning the loss of a family member.