A group of 18 German shepherds were in transit to a police K-9 training center in Indiana last week when the air conditioning in the vehicle failed, leading to the deaths of at least eight of the the dogs. From The Boston Globe:
The Lake Station Police Department, which responded to a chaotic scene at a gas station off the interstate in Lake Station, Ind., did not specify in a statement issued Friday how many dogs had been en route to the training center or how many had died. A local animal rescue organization in Hobart, about 3 miles south, estimated that 18 dogs had been in the vehicle and that at least eight of them had died during or after the episode.
The driver had been stuck in a traffic delay for two hours and had not been aware of the air conditioner's failure because the dogs were in a separate cargo area, the statement said. The driver was alerted to their distress when he heard barking.
The area near Hobart reached highs of at least 91 degrees Thursday, according to the Chicago forecast office of the National Weather Service.
There are two issues at play here. First is that extreme heat is a major problem, with fatalities from extreme heat rising across the country. And that's just humans; our animal companions can be even more susceptible to heat-related death and suffering because of the way that humans contain them, limiting their natural abilities to regulate their temperatures (like leaving a dog in a heat car). Climate change: it's bad news!
The other issue is that police dogs are a huge factor for police brutality, especially against people of color. In a just world, these poor pups would have never been in a situation where they were being exposed to such brutal heat conditions, because they shouldn't have been sent to a training facility to be weaponized in the first place. It's cruel to the dogs, and it's cruel to the humans. And this is the tragic result.
Dogs die from heat-related injuries on their way to police training [Lauren McCarthy / The Boston Globe]