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Aug 10, 2011 12:17 AM by Shawn Kline

Heat poses difficulties for K-9 units

Investigators in Iberia Parish are using K-9 officers in the search for that murder suspect. This comes just days after a K-9 officer in St. Martin Parish died in the line of duty.

Hatos, a year and a half old Belgian Malinois, suffered a heat stoke Saturday while helping police search for two juveniles who escaped from the St. Martin Parish detention center.

"They're trained in tracking... and apprehension," St. Landry Parish Deputy Jason Sonnier said of the dogs. "They will bite."

Sonnier and his partner, "Narco" are part of St. Landry Parish's K-9 unit.

Experts say in high temperatures, work can get very dangerous.

"They don't have sweat glands." Veterinarian David Orgeron says, "the only way they can cool off is by panting."

Orgeron says he starts seeing heat stroke symptoms in temperatures over 90-degrees.
Without water, he says dogs can quickly develop those symptoms.

"A heat stroke is when their temperature has gone so high where its causing brain swelling," Orgeron said.

In a summer like this, it's always on Deputy Sonnier's mind.
Not only for Narco, but for himself.

"One, we have to pay attention to our surroundings because the suspect may be hiding with a gun." Sonnier listed, "two, we have to pay attention to our dog to make sure he isn't getting overheated and three, we have to pay attention to make sure we aren't getting overheated ourselves."

The same tips go for all pet owners at home. Make sure you have plenty of water for your pets and the best time to take them for a walk is when the sun is rising or setting and the heat isn't such an issue.



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