PC Mark Johnson, a police dog handler from Nottinghamshire police, was yesterday found guilty of leaving two police dogs in his car on one of the hottest days of last year, causing both dogs to die of heatstroke.
PC Johnson was found guilty on charges of animal cruelty and was ordered to pay court costs of £2,500. He was also given just a six month conditional discharge. PC Johnson claimed he was suffering with mental health problems at the time, which accounted for his actions in allowing the dogs to die in the car.
PC Johnson claimed that he was suffering from an ‘obsessive compulsive disorder’ which was caused by the Independent Police Complaints Commission investigating him on a number of matters.
The two Alsatians, named Jay-Jay and Jet, were left in the officer’s car on June 30th last year, when temperatures that day peaked at 29.3C. Temperatures inside the car, where the two dogs were trapped, would have been much higher. It is believed that the two dogs would have died in under twenty minutes.
Meanwhile PC Johnson was in the police station, doing some paperwork.
Johnson claimed he loved the dogs dearly:
I treated the dogs as members of the family and they were loved as such.
The RSPCA’s Paul Taylor, who was prosecuting the case, stated:
His failure in this case is an aberration of his normal high standards. However, his actions had catastrophic consequences for the two dogs in the car.
Tim Devas, the judge presiding over the case, claimed that the police force was at fault for not helping the officer with his mental health problems.
I feel a police officer has been let down and this is for the benefit of the police: this is a dreadful error of judgment brought about by an illness way before it happened and PC Johnson should have been given more help … I cannot believe that in the 21st century, depression and men crying is so abhorrent to an institution that nothing can be done about it.
I have no doubt that had PC Johnson received the help he needed then he wouldn’t be standing before me here today.
As a result of the deaths of the two dogs, Nottinghamshire police has changed its procedures with regards to how dogs are handled. On returning to the station, all dog handlers must now take their dogs to the kennels. They are also testing a new ‘fob system’ which will tell officers of any increases in temperatures inside their vehicles.