Missouri — A police dog died of heat exposure after the air conditioning in his patrol car failed, authorities said.
The dog, Hondo, had been alone in the car for about an hour when he was found unconscious by his handler, Independence Police Sgt. John Bullard, about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. Outside temperatures had reached 97 degrees.
"It's like losing a family member," Capt. Gregg Wilkinson said. "Dogs become attuned to their handler and their family members."
Bullard was driving the dog to an animal hospital when his patrol car collided with a vehicle driven by an 82-year-old motorist, who was treated for minor injuries. Another officer took Bullard and Hondo to the hospital, where the dog was pronounced dead on arrival.
Police are investigating why the police vehicle's "hot dog" system failed. The system is designed to roll down windows, turn on a fan and blare a siren to alert the dog handler when temperatures in the vehicle approach an unsafe level.