(FRESNO, Calif.) -- A beloved California K-9 officer named "Idol" passed away in a hot police car last month after an unknown malfunction caused the vehicle and its air conditioning to shut off while the dog was in the back, according to the Porterville Police Department.
On June 20 Idol's handler decided to put the dog in his air conditioned police car to cool down the Belgian Malinois. Temperatures last month in Porterville reached over 90 degrees. Less than two hours later, the officer returned to find the vehicle was no longer running and Idol was dead in the back, the police department said in a statement.
The vehicle's warning system, meant to alert the handler when temperatures reached unsafe levels, did not activate, according to police.
The Tulare County Sheriff's Department investigated the incident and determined there was no criminal act committed by the officer. The police department described Idol's death as a "tragic loss" in a statement.
The police department announced it is in the process of refitting all K-9 units with new, state-of-the-art warning systems as well as other safety procedures to prevent this type of loss from happening again.
"In his terms it's like losing a kid. They've been together for two years. This officer is one of our top officers, he's SWAT, he was our officer of the year last year for the department. He's a stellar officer, he pays attention to all the details. It's just a tragedy," Porterville's police chief Eric Kroutil told local ABC News affiliate KSFN-TV in Fresno, California.
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