Keeping Dogs Safe in Hot Cars

K9 Nitro

On June 30, 2015, Nitro, a long serving police K9, was overcome by extreme heat when the air conditioner in his police K9 vehicle failed.   While officers were serving a warrant to arrest a suspect, the suspect fled and another K9 was deployed to catch the fleeing suspect.  When K9 Nitro's handler/partner returned to the vehicle, the air conditioning was off and Nitro was in distress.  K9 Nitro's partner rushed him to a vet, where Nitro died.   

K9 Zane

On July 17, 2015, Zane, a 5-year-old police K9, was found dead in his handler's patrol vehicle, after his handler returned home from a 12 hour shift not feeling well and left K9 Zane in the vehicle for 10 hours.  K9 Zane’s partner/handler has been placed on administrative leave subject to an internal investigation. The police department reports it is now looking into a device used in daycare vans to keep their K9 officers safe. 

Both of these deaths are heart breaking. As a K9 handler who works with the police, I fear the summer more than any other time of year. Handling three dogs, I can only work one dog at a time, which means the other two dogs are left in the vehicle.

On a search, I have two choices.  I can leave the dogs in the shade with a fan, water and protective sun deflectors draped over the vehicle.  Or, I can leave the vehicle running with the air conditioning on and the windows rolled up.  I fear leaving the vehicle on because the engine might overheat and quit.  KYK9 lacks the heat sensors and alarms typically installed in police department K9 vehicles, an important layer of safety I wish we could afford.  (But even that extra protection failed K9 Nitro.)  But sometimes, there is no shade.  And even if there is shade, it moves with the sun.  

And this is why the heat scares me.   I never know how long a search will take.  If there is no scent trail to follow, the search obviously will be short.  But if there is a scent trail, Scout, Remy or Pocket could take trail and be gone for hours.  

Last week, we deployed in the high heat and humidity of mid-July.  I left the vehicle with the windows down, fan on, as it was overcast.  K9 Scout took trail and after five minutes I realized we would be gone for a good while. I knew there were police officers near my vehicle, but that brought me little comfort.  Non-K9 officers often leave their vehicles running and don't have to worry. So that was not enough.  

I asked the officer with me to radio and have another officer check on my dogs. I felt better, not taking any chances.  So as we walked back hours later, my heart skipped a beat when I saw my vehicle with its windows rolled up, unattended.  I had left the windows down, vehicle in the shade.  I started running toward the vehicle.   As I rushed up, an officer stepped out from behind the truck.  He smiled softly, "Don't worry.  I rolled up the windows and turned on the air conditioning when the sun came out. I have dogs, I know." 

K9 Nitro and K9 Zane were not so lucky.  For K9 Scout, K9 Remy and K9 Pocket safety based on luck is not good enough. And, even taking every safety precaution possible, I will always, always worry.  

Rest in peace K9 Officers Nitro and Zane.   

Flash Floods:Turn Around, Don't Drown!

Kentucky has had record levels of rainfall this July.  Along with the rain has come fatal flash flooding.  Johnson County was devastated as raging water destroyed over 40 homes and killed 5 people who could not escape the surging water's wrath.  As we keep Johnson County in our prayers, please also know that more than half of all flooding related deaths occur when individuals attempt to drive in their cars across flooded roads or don't realize a road is flooded until it is too late.  I am sharing this safety video from the US National Weather Service in Boise Idaho for a second time, because it does a good job of illustrating the deadly power of flash flooding.  Please drive safely and keep all 4 wheels on the ground.  

Flooding is one of the leading causes of weather related fatalities in the U.S. On average, flooding claims nearly 90...

Posted by US National Weather Service Boise Idaho on Monday, March 16, 2015

How Breast Exams Are Like Dog Sniffs

An interesting legal analogy posited by Prof. SHERRY F. COLB  on APRIL 2, 2015   in

VERDICT: Legal Analysis and Commentary from Justia 

Prof Colb's article, How Breast Exams Are Like Dog Sniffs, re-posted in part below. 

On March 17, the New York Times ran a story about the troubling inconclusiveness of breast biopsy results. Some results are clear and generate a reassuring consensus among pathologists examining the tissue. But for “grey area” results, some doctors find reason for alarm and thus for more tests and procedures, while others believe that all is essentially well. In this column, I will compare this phenomenon of ambiguity-generating medical tests with a seemingly unrelated phenomenon that surrounds dog sniffs for narcotics. I will suggest that when a test’s results are less than definitive, we may have a reason to avoid taking the test in the first place, even when the test itself is relatively uninvasive or innocuous on its own. 


Only in Kentucky

On a search far out in the beautiful wilds of Kentucky, I stopped to get gas at the town diner. I went in to get some water and through the smoke saturated air, I hear the attendant ask the man in front of me 'Do want you to pay for your gas today or later in the week." Minus the smoke, how cool is that??


This little 5-year-old boy was dropped off, alone at a public park by his parents.  He wandered up to my truck and a nice family nearby. The little fella didn't know his parents' name, phone, or address.  Police were unable to locate parents.  He was taken to social services.  Thank God he is safe . . .

boy left in park.JPG


Pocket and I just returned from cadaver training at Western Carolina University in North Carolina. WCU is one of only 6 universities in the country with a forensic anthropology facility, called the FOREST, dedicated to the study of human decomposition.  Under the leadership of Dr. Cheryl Johnston and Paul Martin, the WCU program includes a cadaver dog program which provides dogs with unique exposure to human remains not available anywhere else.  

I must admit I was a little apprehensive about going into the FOREST.  But that quickly dissipated, as I focused my energy on Pocket's reaction, training and creating a positive experience for her. Pocket, like many of the dogs, did very well.  She has now had an exposure that will be invaluable on real searches.  Thank you WCU!!!  

For those of you who have or might consider donating your body to science, the FOREST is a unique option where your body will not only help forensic anthropologists but also search dogs.

Out of respect to the donors and their families, we did not take photos of the facility.  In that sense the FOREST felt at once sacred and scientific.  We did take few photos outside of the FOREST where we were privileged to train under the tutelage of trainers Lisa Higgins and Brad Dennis.    

Brad Dennis working a water problem with Jennifer and Pocket.

Brad Dennis working a water problem with Jennifer and Pocket.


Missing child found

Happy happy day!! K9 Scout found a missing child safe and sound today.  Excellent work by Jefferson County Pubic Schools Police and school security personnel.  Principal and teacher also played critical role in helping obtain hard to find scent article.  Great teamwork by all!

K9 Scout very happy (and hot) after finding missing child.  

K9 Scout very happy (and hot) after finding missing child.  

25 Years of Hope - Michaela Garecht

I wanted to share this post. - Jennifer

Posted on April 24, 2014 by Marc Klaas

By Sharon Murch

Michaela Garecht

My daughter, Michaela Joy Garecht, has been missing for over 25 years, the victim of a witnessed stranger abduction. She was nine years old on November 19, 1988, when she and her best friend rode their scooters two blocks from home to the neighborhood market. They parked the scooters by the door while they went into the store, but when they came out one was not where they had left it.  Michaela spotted it first, in the parking lot, and went to get it. As she bent over to pick it up, a man jumped out of the car parked next to it, and grabbed her from behind. Michaela screamed and her friend, Trina, turned to see the kidnapper throw Michaela into his car, and take off with her.


The police were called and responded immediately. By the time I found out what had happened, they were already looking for her, and I had no doubt with the quick response time and with the eyewitness description, she would be found quickly. But she wasn’t. Despite the efforts of the police, the media, and the huge and heartwarming outpouring of love and support by the community, she was not found quickly. She was not found at all.

After Michaela was kidnapped, I was tortured with thoughts of what she might be enduring right that minute. But I thought about those poor parents who had lost their children to illness or accident, and thought maybe I had it easier because in the very worst times I had that hope to carry me through, the hope that my daughter would come home safely. Every time a police car pulled up in front of my house I would run to the window, expecting to see Michaela sitting in the back seat. I would stand at my front door and gaze down the street where I’d watched her disappear from sight, hoping to see her little blonde head bobbing towards home.

But a year passed then two years, five years, ten, twenty, and now twenty-five. I discovered that hope is not always a brightly colored helium balloon that helps keep your spirits up. Sometimes it is dark and filled with lead, a weight that drags on you with every step you take, making you so weary you just don’t think you can go on. But you do. You have to,, because your child, who would now be an adult, your child who now would be just a little older than you were when you lost her, is still missing.

After a while, there is not much more that can be done, but you keep doing it anyway. For me, buoyed by the hope presented by other long-missing children having been found, I reach out to my daughter herself. I keep a BLOG in which I write to her, and even provide maps to help her get to embassies in other countries where she might be. I continue to talk to the media whenever asked, not because I want to, but because I continue to hope that perhaps Michaela will see it someday, somewhere.

Not many, but some people have criticized me for not being realistic, for not recognizing that after more than 25 years chances are Michaela is not alive. I do recognize that. But if I continue to knock myself silly looking for her and she is not alive, no harm is done to anyone but myself. On the other hand, if she is still alive, she may be suffering, and she needs me to keep looking for her. So that is what I do, and what I will continue to do, to look for my missing child, until the day she is found.

This entry was posted in Michaela Garechtmissing children by Marc Klaas. Bookmark the permalink.

Baseball, really?

Today the sun was shining, but my goodness, it was cold.  A big thank you to Julie Boyd for helping us train in sub-20 weather.  Of note was Remy's  run through a drainage pipe to get to scent source.  Very cool - it was a long pipe.  Also of note, we were not the only folks training. Cap off to the Atherton baseball and softball teams for practicing long and hard in the cold, even as the sun went down. Hopefully their dedicated practice will pay off for them this season, when it is warmer!

Hi y'all.

K9 Pocket gets a lot of attention because she is a puppy and because . . . well because she is Pocket.  Yesterday, as Remy and Scout raced across a cold, muddy field with their tails wagging, I realized KYK9 followers might like an update on them.  They are having a great winter. Remy loves the snow and Scout loves being with Remy.  Lots of good times playing, training, and searching.  

"Come on Scout, this way, follow me."

"Come on Scout, this way, follow me."

The weather outside is frightful . . .

K9 Pocket's response to the coldest day of the year (temperature below zero):

 "Mom, I really really want to go out.  I LOVE to play in the snow.  I won't get cold, I promise!"   . . .

"OK, since I can't play outside, then I will help you with your work."

 I guess she really likes helping, as she keeps jumping up on my keyboard.  I think she may be telling me I need to start writing more blog posts! 

pocket typing.jpg

2nd Murder Suspect Arrested in Texas at Mexican Border in Alex Johnson Missing Person Case

1/21/2014  I am sad to report that 2 men have been issued murder warrants in the case of  Lexington man Alex Johnson, 32, who went missing a few days before Christmas. My thoughts and prayers are with his parents, his sister and his girlfriend. 

 1/21/2014  Update and a note from Alex's parents.

1/23/2014 -  Update: 2nd Murder Suspect Arrested in Texas at Mexican Border.

Thank you LPD for your good work!!