I have to wonder about what could lead an experienced dog handler to leave two dogs in the back of his personal car and go off to work elsewhere. But today we read about handler Sgt Ian Craven who is alleged to have caused the death of his Malinois and German Shepherd (file pictures below) by leaving them in his unventilated car at the Met’s dog training centre in Keston, Kent.
This is the sort of thing that we get called to regularly on hot days, but thankfully it usually transpires that the animal is actually in a ventilated car with a bowl of water, and have been left there for only a few minutes before the call has been made. There are, of course, the calls where this is not the case and I have put through a number of windows in the last few years to get very poorly animals some help.
The reaction of Craven on finding out about the death of his dogs is quite extreme in that he fled to a canal bank and attempted to commit suicide by slashing his wrists, eventually being found and treated in hospital. Was this reaction due to his extreme distress at the loss of his dogs, the thought of the impending trial by media (especially as he had been disciplined over the death of another Police dog in July 2004) or a symptom of some other issue that might be a factor in his actions earlier in the day.
One thing is certain. And that is that these dogs should not have been locked in a car on the hottest day of the year at a Police dog training centre where there must surely have been facilities to house them for the period of Sgt Craven’s duty. I have to make the assumption that he didn’t do this on purpose, that he wasn’t due to take the dogs to the Olympic site with him that day and simply forgot them. I am also assuming that he didn’t accidentally put the dogs in the car when he went to work.
The only option left then is that he took the dogs with him to the training centre intending to have them suitably accommodated for the day, and something happened that caused this to be overlooked. What that something is will no doubt be the subject of much scrutiny over the next few weeks.
The last Police officer that was convicted of anything like this was PC Mark Johnson from Nottinghamshire who received a six month conditional discharge last year. Sergeant Craven could face up to 51 weeks in prison and a fine of up to £20,000 as well as a ban on keeping pets if convicted of animal cruelty.
Whatever the circumstances, these two animals would have suffered enormously before eventually being overcome by the heat. It is them I feel sorry for, and I hope that their death, and the publicity surrounding it makes other dog owners a little more conscientious about their own animals over the coming summer months.