DETROIT, Mich. — A Detroit police dog died after being left in a hot car for about 40 minutes earlier this summer, according to FOX 2 Detroit.
The incident happened June 26 when a K-9 officer put Vito the German Shepherd in a Dodge Durango that was parked at a training site. The officer then reportedly started the SUV remotely.
FOX 2 reports that the officer, who has been with the department for 10 years, checked on Vito a few times to make sure the vehicle was running and then left with another officer to pick up a different vehicle.
“They were gone 40 minutes – during that time the vehicle shut off heat safety alarm system that normally activates when vehicle hits 95 degrees (and it) failed to operate,” Detroit Police Cmdr. Darin Szilagy, head of the department’s K-9 unit, tells FOX 2. “The windows should have come down, and the air conditioning on.”
Vito was barely alive when the officers returned to the vehicle, according to FOX 2. The dog died the following day due to cardiac arrest.
According to FOX 2, an investigation into the incident revealed that the officer did not follow policy, which is that dogs need to be checked on every 30 minutes and officers can’t rely on safety features. The investigation also revealed that the vehicle suffered from mechanical issues.
“Unfortunately we also found out through the investigation the officer knew there was some inconsistencies and it wasn’t reported so it could be diagnosed,” Szilagy told FOX 2.
The officer is awaiting a hearing on the matter.
“There is no punishment we can render that that officer doesn’t already feel,” Szilagy said. “I can tell you that we have to make sure through training and discipline this doesn’t happen again.”