*Four police dogs have died over the past five weeks in the hot car of their human colleague after being forgotten as the cop was most likely off being inappropriate with some civilian.
One such dog was known as Baston (pictured above). He was a 7-year-old German Shepherd that was left in his owners car after the owner fell asleep inside the house after bringing in the groceries.
When the handler realized the dog was still in the car, three to four hours later — with the windows rolled up and the engine off, he rushed the dog inside and placed it in a cool tub of water. But it was too late. Temperatures were greater than 95-degrees that day.
Baston, who passed away on July 10, joined the SSU Police Department in 2010 and helped multiple local law enforcement agencies during his time on duty.
“The Savannah State University family is saddened by the loss of K9 officer Baston,” SSU said in a statement to PEOPLE. “He contributed significantly to the safety of all on the SSU campus for the past five years. Baston’s skills were also employed to assist surrounding law enforcement agencies and departments.”
Three other K-9 deaths have occurred since Baston. A bloodhound named Zane, who was left in his handlers car for close to 10 hours, was found dead on the afternoon of July 16. A 3-year-old “community engagement officer” in Gulf Shores, Alabama, named Mason died on June 18 after being left in the back of a patrol car while on duty. And on June 30, a Stockton, California, K-9 named Nitro died after the air-conditioner failed in his police car.
No doubt these were all accidents, and the handlers were devastated (much moreso than they are with the people they mishandle, but that’s another story).
Nevertheless, the police departments are making attempts to protect these K-9 officers so that this will not happen in the future.
Joe Silver, a spokesman for the Stockton Police says, “Handlers have been directed to leave their K-9 partners at home on days the weather forecast calls for 100 degrees or more, until new vehicles are put into service.”
“Everyone needs to remember that dogs are more vulnerable to high temperatures than people,” he said. “Animals can sustain brain damage or even die from heatstroke in just 15 minutes,” he adds.
Rest in peace, officers. Not even an animal deserves to die this way.