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System senses dogs left in police cars

PHOENIX – A special warning system has been installed in a Peoria Police Department patrol car that will protect a police dog from the excessive Arizona heat.

A mat placed on the floor of Officer Aaron Brewer’s patrol car will detect when his dog is present.

If a dog is in the car and a handler removes the car keys from the ignition, the engine will keep running.

If the car’s air conditioning fails when the handler is away and the temperature rises above 90, then a siren will sound.

Once the alarm goes off, the handler has three minutes to get to the car and disable it before a message is dispatched.

If the handler can’t be located, Peoria police will send officers to the vehicle’s last known location.

The system starts working when the dog gets in the patrol car.

“You don’t have to turn it on or off,” Peoria police spokesman Mike Tellef said. “The dog getting in turns it on, and the dog getting out turns it off.”

High temperatures during much of the year in the metro Phoenix-area can be deadly to animals left inside a vehicle.

Tellef believes Peoria was the first police department in the country to install the system, which cost about $800 to $900.

“From listening to Officer Brewer talk about the unit, it does place him a little more at ease,” Tellef said. “But he insists that he still has the responsibility for the care of his K-9 partner, and this unit helps add additional safety if he gets distracted.”

Only one system has been installed, although the department does have another police dog handler.

“We want to make sure it’s going to work the way we want it to (before installing it into more vehicles),” Tellef said.

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