DURHAM, N.C. — The Durham County Sheriff’s Office has changed their handling policies after a K-9 died in a hot car last summer, WTVD reports.
In a statement, a Durham County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson wrote:
“On July 11th of 2018, Deputy Peter Lilje was taking part in a training exercise with his canine ‘Max.’ Max was in Deputy Lilje’s patrol unit during a portion of the training. The patrol unit is equipped with safety measures that activate when the temperature in the vehicle rises above a set degree. Deputy Lilje returned to his patrol vehicle and found that the temperature inside was above the threshold for the safety measures to activate. Max was deceased as a result. An internal investigation was initiated into the incident. On October 2, 2018, Deputy Lilje was suspended without pay and removed from the Durham County Sheriff’s Office Canine Program.”
The technology is a thermostat inside the car. When the inside temperature hits a specific degree, it turns on fans to expel hot air from the car, rolls down the windows, and honks the vehicle’s horn.
Max was a 9-year-old Belgian Malinois who had been with the department for seven years.
Following the incident, the department updated procedures for K-9’s, requiring a K-9 handler or deputy to check on unattended K-9s every 20 minutes or must place the K-9 into the kennels located at the Durham County Courthouse.