http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/crime/officer-charged-after-police-dog-dies-in-hot-car/article/398842

Officer charged after police dog dies in hot car

Posted Aug 23, 2014 by Megan Hamilton
A police officer in Wyoming pleaded not guilty to an animal cruelty charge amidst allegations that a police dog perished after he left it in a hot patrol car for hours.
Police patrol car.
Police patrol car.
Paevar MorgueFile
An investigator's statement filed in the Natrona County Circuit Court alleges that Mills police officer Zachary Miller reportedly left 10-year-old Nyx, a female black retriever mix, in his patrol car for more than six hours on July 9, Yahoo! reports.
Miller reportedly left the car running, but the windows were up and the air conditioning was off, according to The Casper Star Tribune.
"It's not normal to leave a car running that long," Mills police chief Bryon Preciado said, per The Star Tribune. "I'm not justifying it. He shouldn't have been here that long."
According to the affidavit, Miller left Nyx inside his car and entered the police department about 6 a.m. He didn't return to the car until about 12:20 p.m. Preciado noted that police dogs are allowed inside the station, Yahoo! reports.
While inside the station Miller was training another officer on patrol-duty procedures. He is no longer a training officer, Preciado said, adding that the officer Miller was training will not be disciplined.
Miller, who has been with the department for four years, is still employed but isn't on active duty, Preciado said. He was given a one-week suspension with pay beginning the day the dog died.
"It was a mistake he's going to have to pay for," Preciado said. "He's going to be disciplined through our department."
Miller faces a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $750 fine, The Star Tribune reports.
Miller has never faced disciplinary action by the department before, Preciado said. He was named "Officer of the Year" in 2013.
Nyx had been with the department since 2006 and Miller was her handler for the last two years. She lived with his family--even going on family vacations, per The Star Tribune. She assisted Casper Police, the Wyoming Highway Patrol, the Division of Criminal Investigation and the Natrona County Sheriff's Officer, Preciado said.
"It's a tragedy," said Mills Mayor Marrolyce Wilson.
Plans are in the works to dedicate a plaque or other kind of memorial in Nyx's memory at the police department, Preciado said. Her body was buried on Miller's property, per The Star Tribune.
Nyx was the first and only police dog at the department. The department's K9 program is currently suspended while policies are reviewed, Preciado said.
"I think there's a lot of things we can learn from Nyx's death," he said.
Heat alarms will be installed in the K9 patrol car prior to acquiring a new police dog. The heat alarms will come equpped with a key fob that the handler will carry.
When temperatures are too hot or too cold in the patrol car an alarm will sound.
On a hot day, a car can turn into a death trap for a dog, PETA reports. Even if someone runs into a store for a few minutes temperatures can rise dramatically. On a day when it's only 78-degrees in a few minutes. On a 90-degree day, inside temperatures can rise to 160 degrees in less than 10 minutes.
Brain damage or death from heatstroke can occur in just 15 minutes. Dogs have a difficult time in these kinds of situations because they can only cool off by panting and sweating through their paw pads, per PETA
The organization recommends that if you see a dog by itself in a hot care, write down the car's color, make, model, and license plate number. Try paging the owner in nearby buildings, or call local humane authorities or police. If possible, have someone keep watch the dog and don't leave until the situation has been resolved.