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Dog’s death shows heat danger

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The Drug Enforcement Agency needs to hold accountable a narcotics officer who apparently left a police dog in a car for several hours in hot temperatures resulting in its death. "Lady," a beagle trained to find narcotics for the Drug Enforcement Agency's Metro Task Force, died recently from heat stroke after being left in an officer's car in temperatures of more than 100 degrees, the Humane Society said.

It was a needless tragedy but it serves no purpose for the community at large to further impugn an officer who supervisors have said already feels a deep remorse over the dog's death. It would be more productive to concentrate on lessons to be learned from this regrettable incident, which graphically illustrates the dangers of the summer heat.

It is particularly hazardous to people and animals enclosed in small spaces or exposed to unrelenting temperatures for long periods of time. Young children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable because it is difficult for their bodies to rid heat, which can result in heat stroke.

Heat stroke occurs when a person's core body heat rises to extreme temperatures. The increased body temperature has a severe

effect on all internal organs, but particularly the central nervous system, which directly affects the functions of the brain and lungs. Victims typically lose consciousness and eventually suffer either respiratory or cardiac arrest.

As temperatures are expected to hover in the high 90s and 100s in Utah next week, Utahns need to exercise common sense to endure the expected heat wave, drinking plenty of water and staying indoors the hottest hours of the day. People who exercise outdoors should confine their activity to the early morning hours and late in the evening when the heat has subsided.

Recent high temperatures have proved deadly elsewhere in country. For instance, a heat wave in the South has killed 12 people in Texas and four in Louisiana, most of them elderly.

These deaths stir sad memories of the deaths of five little girls in a West Valley neighborhood discovered in the trunk of a car on sweltering afternoon in August 1998. The girls had been missing for an hour when someone popped open the trunk of a car to find their bodies inside.

The incident, ruled an accident, broke Utah broke Utah's collective heart. It also caused parents and their children to be more aware of the dangers of heat and enclosed spaces. The girls' deaths also resulted in at least one manufacturer making automobile trunk latches standard equipment in an upcoming model year of cars.

The deaths of five little girls and more recently, a police dog, serve as harsh reminders how vulnerable humans and animals are to extreme heat and how quickly and how innocently such deaths can occur.