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Officer who left 2 dogs to die in car is fined

A police dog handler in the UK has been found guilty of animal cruelty for leaving two German shepherds to die in the back of his car on one of the hottest days of last year.

Mark Johnson, of the Nottinghamshire police, was given a six-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay a fine. The judge called it “an extremely difficult case” which reflected poorly on the force’s attitude to officers with mental health problems.

Prosecutors said the animals – Jay-Jay and Jet – died in “excruciating pain” after Johnson ­forgot he had not taken them out of his vehicle on June 30. The dogs died – possibly within 20 minutes of being left in the car– from heatstroke, The Guardian reported

Johnson, 39, said he was severely depressed and was suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder when he left the dogs in the car. He said his illness had caused him to forget that the animals were still in the car as he sat down to do paperwork at Nottinghamshire police’s headquarters.

District judge Tim Devas described the dogs’ deaths as “sad and regrettable”, but criticized the police department for failing to help an officer struggling with depression.

“I feel a police officer has been let down … (T)his is a dreadful error of judgment brought about by an illness way before it happened and PC Johnson should have been given more help … I cannot believe that in the 21st century, depression and men crying is so abhorrent to an institution that nothing can be done about it,” he said.

An assistant chief constable of the Nottinghamshire police said dog handlers must now take their animals directly to kennels on arrival at work and that a system was being piloted alerting handlers to temperature changes inside vehicles.


Comment from PetWiki
Time February 24, 2010 at 7:25 am

What an unfortunate incident. It is so easy to make a mistake like that, it is important to be extra-vigilant. This kind of thing can happen to pets and children and all precautions should be put in place to remind drivers to take all passengers out of the car when they get out.

Comment from Jenifer
Time February 24, 2010 at 12:09 pm

I realize this will make me sound unsympathetic and socially intolerant. However, I am very well aware in my line of work (for 4 decades) that there are depressed people everywhere in every walk of life, some severely depressed to the point of nearly non-functioning in life. Those people are NOT “forgetting” the animals that in many if not most instances help them to continue living when they might just prefer the alternative. I am SO VERY TIRED of excuses being made for every type of crime committed by people who seem to feel that someone else should shoulder the blame rightfully laid at their doorsteps. I do agree that law enforcement (and military, and the professions including teaching, nursing, etc. – in fact EVERY career) should be more caring and watchful and nurturing. But you know what??? People need to GROW UP and do some self-care and self-education. Sorry but my sympathies and sorrows are completely for the dogs who died a horrific death while Mr. Overworked Cop was feeling sorry for himself slogging through doing the paperwork which after all he is paid handsomely to complete, by taxpayer dollars, taxpayers who are really REALLY unhappy that cops can pretty much do any darn thing they want because someone is going to make excuses for the behavior.