New technology keeps K9 officers safe in heat - Tucson News Now

New technology keeps K9 officers safe in heat

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CASA GRANDE, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The Department of Public Safety is taking extra precaution to make sure its K9 units are safe in the blazing summer heat. 

Officers launched a pilot program to monitor how safe their K9 officers are when they're out on patrol in the heat.

Nico has been DPS officer Brian Green's K9 companion on the job for the past couple of years.

"We're partners together, we want to take care of each other. He risks his life for us in dangerous situations. The least we can do is protect him in situations that could be avoidable. Such as this heat," Greene said. 

One way they're doing that is through a microchip that's implanted in Nico's neck. The microchip will read the dog's body temperature and send that reading to the officer's phone which can be viewed at all times.

"I don't know if we have an expectation of how many dog's lives we're going to save. I think the expectation is to use as much technology we can to prevent the catastrophic event we had a couple of years ago when we did lose a dog," Sgt. Trent Adamson said.

If the dog gets overheated an alert is sent to the officer's phone using an app. Officer Greene took Nico though an obstacle course in the middle of the afternoon. Within a few minutes, Nico's body temperature went up. 

"It went up to 101, so in that short amount of time, it went up two degrees. So you can see it doesn't take much. He's in good shape right now," he said.

The danger zone is anything above 104 degrees.

"106 will absolutely shut him down," Greene said.

"Typically on hot days like this you have to keep the deployments short, I'm talking maybe five minutes in extreme heat like this and then the dog has to be put back in the patrol car to cool down," Adamson said.

Greene said the technology is very helpful but that they still have to rely on reading the dog's body signals to make sure everything is fine.

Currently, only three dogs have the microchips implanted. But DPS officers say they'll review this program and decide if it will be worth it to expand to other K9 officers.

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