Hereford & Worcester

Dog in West Mercia Police vehicle died of heatstroke

Ivy the dog Image copyright Jennie Evans
Image caption Ivy was taken ill in a climate-controlled police vehicle in July and later died

A police dog taken ill in a force vehicle with a faulty fan died of heatstroke, an investigation has found.

Temperatures reached 26C (78.8F) in Worcester on the day West Mercia Police dog Ivy was found unresponsive in a "climate-controlled police vehicle".

A review has found a number of contributing factors caused the onset of heatstroke and 17 recommendations have been made.

The force said it had "taken on board everything the review has identified".

Following the death it was revealed that Ivy was at the centre of a campaign calling for the dog to retire with former handler David Evans.

On 5 July, while her handler was attending a training session, Ivy remained within the climate controlled pod with another dog in the back of the police vehicle.

As it was a hot day, the vehicle's engine was left running to allow the air conditioning to work.

The report stated that Ivy was left in the car and not checked on for two hours.

Temperature 'way in excess'

When Ivy's handler returned to the vehicle to check on the Belgian Malinois crossbreed it was found to be unwell and unresponsive. The second dog was not unwell or in any distress.

An account from a vet stated that on presentation at the surgery, Ivy's temperature was in excess of 43C (109.4F) - the maximum temperature the surgery thermometer could record - and "way in excess of a normal functioning body temperature for a dog of around 38C".

Ivy was given chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but was later put to sleep.

Image copyright Jennie Evans
Image caption Ivy was at the centre of a 2017 campaign calling for the dog to retire with former handler Sgt David Evans

The review, carried out by Staffordshire Police, found an extractor fan in the vehicle was malfunctioning.

It said: "On this occasion this will have been drawing very hot air from the roof of the vehicle into the pods."

This, the review continued, was: "Likely to have caused inefficiency in the operation of the air con and potentially increase... humidity within the pod.

"Both of these factors could have been significantly detrimental to the dogs within the vehicle and in part responsible for the onset of heatstroke."

It said that the handler had "never been shown formally how to operate the air con system" and "doesn't know if he has been doing things right but it seemed to work OK at all other times".

In its conclusions it added: "The failure of the extractor fan and a lack of shared knowledge around the effective operation of the air con system, coupled with the length of the time the dogs have been left in the vehicles, are seemingly the most significant contributory factors in the illness and subsequent death of PD Ivy."

Assistant Chief Constable Geoff Wessell, from West Mercia Police, said: "PD Ivy's death was a shock to us all, in particular for those who were with her that day, all of whom remain deeply affected by it.

"We accept that PD Ivy should not have died as a result of heatstroke and we have learned this very harsh lesson in the worst possible way."

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