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Summer heat dangerous for police K-9s

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Across the country, four police dogs have died from heat exhaustion in the last month, including one in Fountain County.

Local police departments work hard to keep the K-9 officers safe in the summertime.

The heat impacts all of us this time of year.

For police dogs, it takes special care to ensure their safety while they’re serving their community.

“He is very much a partner to me, you get a bond with the dog because he lives with you, he’s with you 24/7,” Lawrence Police K-9 Patrol Officer John Clark said..

The Lawrence Police Department has six K-9 officers, including Sorban, on duty since October.

He’s the second police dog for Clark.

“You trust him, he obviously trusts you, so it’s very hard to deal with when you lose one,” Clark said.

Clark’s first K-9 died of cancer after being retired last year.

He said he becomes very close with the dogs and he works hard every day to keep Sorban safe.

“During the summer months obviously it’s hot and humid,” Clark said.

Those conditions are a real threat to the long haired dogs, so this time of year the officers make sure they’re never in a search for too long.

“What we’ll do is called leap frogging,” Clark said. “We get another dog out and when your dog is tired and hot, you get him in the car, and then another dog will start where you left off.”

They’re also very selective deciding when the dogs wear their bulletproof vests, which can overheat the dogs quickly.

“If we’ve got a bad guy out and he is armed and he maybe has already shot at somebody and we need to locate him, we’ll put the vest on for that particular search,” Clark said.

And each K-9 patrol car is equipped with a temperature sensitive fan on the window, programmed for a certain threshold.

“It’s called a K-9 Cooler and when it gets a certain degrees in the car then the windows will come down and the fan will kick on,” Clark said.

He said that fan is insurance in case the air conditioning in the car goes out when the dog is alone inside.