A police dog, also known as a K-9 unit, was left in a hot car this past Monday (6/12/2023), leading to the death of the animal. Aron was only 4 years old and had been a member of the police force for a year and a half.

In a tweet, Houston police referred to Aron's death as a tragic accident due to a malfunction of the vehicle's emergency cooling system. It also claimed that Aron had been left in the car with the engine running and the air conditioning on, but that the engine had somehow shut off. This is the tweet they released:

Monday in Houston saw sweltering temperatures of 95 degrees, but the inside of a car will get much hotter than that:

Within the first 10 minutes of being turned off, the temperature inside a car can rise 20 degrees

So Aron was left in a car that exceeded 115 degrees to die. The worst part? It happens to police dogs all the time.

heatstroke [...] accounted for 46 such deaths over a five-year period from 2011 to 2015. And in 2019, the Los Angeles Times reported malfunctioning fail-safe controlling systems have often been blamed for other police dog deaths.

Photo by Jason Jarrach on Unsplash
Photo by Jason Jarrach on Unsplash

If the fail-safe system isn't fail-proof, then it certainly isn't living up to its name. In the tweet, the Houston Police stated that vehicles will be inspected to make sure the fail-safe isn't a failure in the future. Time will tell.

All this leads me to wonder if K-9 units are even a good idea in the first place. Certainly, we do need some dogs to locate missing persons or smell for bombs, but do we really need dogs in squad cars for day-to-day duties?

Primarily, "police dogs are trained to bite dangerous suspects and hold them hostage." That seems cruel and unusual to me, especially since a suspect, by definition, has not been found guilty of any crime yet. There have also been many legal cases questioning the constitutionality of using police dogs.

Aron's death is a tragedy. I hope Texas police do everything to ensure something like this doesn't happen again.

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