Huntsville Police Department uses vigilance, technology to keep K-9s safe in heat

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

HUNTSVILLE, AL-  Hot cars and pets, it's a topic we cover every year.  According to our news partners at AL.com,  just last week a Gulf Shores police department K-9 died after being left in a patrol car.

Huntsville Police K-9 handlers say they take extra precautions, including the use of technology to make sure their dogs are hydrated and stay safe in cruisers.

K-9s are a valuable asset to the Huntsville Police Department, that's why officers take every precaution to keep them in tip-top shape.

"The handlers really take a close watch on the dogs in the summer, we limit some of the exercise activity they get, we have multiple dogs on shift, if they get tired they'll call another dog to come in," said Huntsville Police Department Head K-9 Trainer Cory Upton.

Huntsville Police Department K-9 handlers go through intense training to know the symptoms of heat exhaustion.

"Our canine handlers have to be very in tune with their dogs' body behavior because, unfortunately, canines cannot talk to us, tell us they're getting hot, or they need to take a break... so they watch for changes in the dogs behavior; how much they're panting so that we don't have a casualty," said Upton.

Upton says signs of dehydration can be found in a dog's mouth, as well as eye movement and panting and their fur.

"Grab and pull their fur up... if the dogs dehydrated the skin will stay up," said Upton.

Also a dark tongue shows a dog is dehydrated.

While on duty, canines have to spend a significant amount of time in police cruisers. HPD cruisers are equipped with 'hot dog' technology to keep them safe.

"We have heat sensors in the vehicles so if the vehicles reaches a certain degree the light bar goes off, the horn will sound, it will roll the windows down automatically," said Upton.

Upton says the combination of vigilance and technology will ensure officer's best friend stays cool this summer.