Stockton police say that one of its dogs died Tuesday when the air conditioner on the patrol car of his officer-handler failed.
Suffering from the heat, the dog was rushed to a veterinarian where he was pronounced dead.
“It is with great sadness that we must inform you that one of our Police K9s, Nitro, died,” the department posted on its Facebook page.
Police said that the dog was deployed when officers were working a call about 4 p.m. Tuesday in the 8600 block of Santa Paula Way. Officers were there to arrest a man on numerous warrants.
Nitro caught the suspect when he fled, police said. Ramon Garibay, 19, was arrested on suspicion of resisting arrest and the outstanding warrants.
After being deployed, the dog was returned to the police car while his handler assisted other officers with a crowd that was gathering. The department said it appears the air conditioner in the K-9 patrol unit stopped working, resulting in the animal overheating.
The high temperature Tuesday in Stockton was 106 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
“This situation is obviously devastating for our K9 Handler and the entire Police Department is mourning this loss,” the Facebook post went on to say.
The National Weather Service notes that every year, dozens of children and many more pets left in parked vehicles die from hyperthermia, an acute condition that occurs when the body absorbs more heat than it can handle.
The temperature inside a parked vehicle can quickly rise to dangerous levels. Leaving the windows slightly open does not significantly decrease the heat, according to the weather service.
El Dorado County Chief of Animal Services Henry Brzezinski said that if a pet is severely harmed or dies from being left in a hot car, the owner could face fines of up to $500 and up to six months in jail.
Brzezinski said that last week, 13 calls came into animal services about pets left in hot vehicles in El Dorado County. If anyone spots a pet in a hot car, he suggests that they write down the license-plate number and make and model of the vehicle before calling animal services.
“If the animal is in immediate danger, our officers will remove the animal for its safety,” he said.
Brzezinski said that when it is 80 degrees or higher outdoors, the interior of a vehicle can climb to 120 degrees in 10 or 20 minutes.
A study of heatstroke deaths of children in vehicles by Jan Null of the department of meteorology and climate science at San Jose State University notes that eight children have died so far this year in the United States in vehicles from heat. One of the most recent occurred June 21 in Pomona when a 3-year-old girl died after being left in a hot vehicle following a family outing, according to police.
Null’s examination of media reports of 637 child vehicular heatstroke deaths from 1998 through 2014 reveals how the fatalities occurred:
▪ 53 percent – child “forgotten” by caregiver (336 children)
▪ 29 percent – child playing in unattended vehicle (186)
▪ 17 percent –child intentionally left in vehicle by adult (111)
▪ 1 percent – circumstances unknown (4)