Police dogs in cars

Editor's note: Every week a Lake Oswego police officer answers your questions in this space. Please send your questions to reporter Cliff Newell at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 503-636-1281, ext. 105.


"How do canine handlers keep their dogs from overheating in squad cars during the hot summer days?"


An average of about 12 police canines are killed each year due to overheated vehicles. This is not acceptable, and we do everything possible to keep our police service dogs safe and ready to work. We install a heat alarm system specially designed for police canine vehicles. The air-conditioning in the vehicle is left running at all times, and we have a fan along with a vacuum hose that blows the cool air back to the dog. A temperature gauge is installed in the front portion of the vehicle, letting the dog handler read the temperature in the back of the vehicle. The police vehicle also has tinted windows, which keeps the vehicle cooler. When the handler is away from the vehicle, he or she is equipped with a pager, and if the temperature in the vehicle gets to 85 degrees, an alarm will sound on the pager, letting the handler know the air conditioner has stopped working. When the alarm sounds, the windows on the police vehicle will automatically roll down, giving the canine fresh air.

There is also a water dish mounted in the back of the patrol vehicle letting the dog have water at anytime. Being a canine handler in Lake Oswego, I am responsible for Kai, my police dog, 24/7. Police canine handlers form very close bonds with their canine partners, who live with them and their families. Officer Bryan McMahon and KaiWhen on patrol, I try to park in the shade whenever possible and take Kai out of the vehicle any chance that I get. So don’t be alarmed in the summer if you walk by a police canine vehicle and hear the engine running and see the windows rolled up. Kai is in the back with the air-conditioning blasting and blowing his fur all around the vehicle at a cool 65 degrees.

— Officer Bryan McMahon

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