In response to a recent heat-related death of a K-9 in Georgia, Pennsylvania State Representative Scott Conklin announced a bill on June 6 to protect K-9s in his state from suffering the same tragic fate.
House Bill 1334, informally known as “Totti’s Law” to commemorate a Pennsylvania K-9 officer that died from overheating in 2016, aims to safeguard police K-9s from heat-related fatalities by mandating the installation of K-9 heat-detection devices in the emergency vehicles that transport them.
In his announcement of the bill, Conklin called attention to the dangers faced by K-9 officers not only in Pennsylvania but throughout the country and stressed the importance of ensuring their safety.
The proposed legislation would require the integration of heat-detection devices into police vehicles that would trigger an alarm, honk the car horn and automatically lower the windows when a certain internal temperature is reached.
“The tragic loss of a police K-9 to overheating in Georgia just yesterday [June 5] is a somber reminder of the dangers our K-9 officers face,” Conklin said. “These loyal dogs risk their lives to protect and serve, and we must do our part to ensure their safety.”
While the cost of each heat-detection device is approximately $900, Conklin said that it is a small investment compared to the $20,000 expense of training a new police dog.
“Our K-9 officers are an invaluable resource. Preserving their safety and well-being is not just a fiscal matter — it’s a moral obligation,” Conklin said, urging his colleagues to support the bill.
Several police departments across the nation already utilize similar technology, reinforcing Conklin’s call for support and action on the proposed legislation. By enacting this bill, lawmakers would help prevent future tragedies and provide a safer environment for K-9 officers.
The recent heat-related death of K-9 Chase in Cobb County, Georgia, was caused by an air conditioning malfunction inside his handler’s patrol vehicle. The handler was engaged in a training exercise at the time, and it was later determined that the officer was not at fault. Investigations are ongoing to determine the cause of the vehicle’s malfunction and why the safety systems within the patrol car did not activate as intended.
Sergeant Wayne Delk of the Cobb County Police Department expressed condolences and stated that the loss of K-9 Chase has deeply affected the entire department.
The incident further highlighted the need for preventative measures, such as the proposed legislation, to safeguard the lives of K-9 officers.
As Conklin’s bill gains attention, discussions surrounding the safety and well-being of K-9 officers continue to evolve. The proposed legislation presents an opportunity for lawmakers to honor fallen K-9 officers, support their handlers and effect meaningful change in ensuring the protection and welfare of police canines.