Police dog dies from heat inside deputy's car

"Taz" (Photo courtesy of Maj. David Pendley, Burke County Sheriff’s Office)
"Taz" (Photo courtesy of Maj. David Pendley, Burke County Sheriff’s Office)

Morganton, NC - By Jeff Rivenbark - email

MORGANTON, NC (WBTV) - Officials say a K-9 died earlier this month in Burke County after he was left inside a patrol car in which the air conditioning failed to work.

The incident happened in Burke County on August 4th.

Deputies were cleaning out the Burke-Catawba District Confinement Facility which is the jail attached to the sheriff's office.

Deputy Justin Hussey had used his K-9, Taz, to search the facility.  Hussey then brought the dog out to his patrol car.

The sheriff's office says it is normal procedure for K-9s to be left alone inside a patrol car with the air conditioning running when the dog handler is in the office.

The patrol cars are equipped with a switch which automatically activates when the thermostat reaches a certain temperature.   The temperature on the day the dog died was 94 degrees.

According to Burke County Sheriff John McDevitt, the switch malfunctioned and never turned on the air conditioning.

The K-9 was in the car for about one-and-a-half to two hours.  The dog died of heat exhaustion according to Dr. Mark McMahon with the Burke Animal Clinic.

Taz had been with the sheriff's office for two years.  This is the first accidental death involving a K-9 for the sheriff's department.

Copyright 2010 WBTV. All rights reserved.