Island District RCMP are investigating the actions of a West Shore RCMP officer who left a dog baking in a police truck at the Goldstream Boathouse on Wednesday.
A young German shepherd was left in a police truck for at least three hours, with windows cracked but exposed to the noonday sun, according to witnesses.
Cpl. Darren Lagan said senior RCMP officers in Victoria are reviewing the circumstances and actions around the dog being left in the vehicle for an extended period of time. The dog is reported to be in good health with no ill effects.
RCMP initiated the review after Chek News aired footage of boathouse employees working to keep the animal cool by feeding it water and erecting a tent over the truck.
Lagan said the review isn’t a criminal investigation, but the West Shore officer will have to answer for his actions. It’s unclear if the officer could face punishment or sanctions if he found to be negligent.
The Victoria SPCA has confirmed it is launching its own investigation of the incident. “It will be investigated,” said animal protection officer Erika Paul. “It’s the same as any dog in a vehicle in this weather.”
“Certainly we would welcome that. Our standards are high across the board and this is an isolated incident,” Lagan said. “In the end the dog is fine and healthy, but that doesn’t negate the risk. There certainly are questions around (the officer’s) decisions and actions, which is why the review is convened.”
Goldstream Boathouse Marina employee Darrell Taylor said the officer showed up in a police vehicle around noon on Wednesday. He was joined by a woman and two kids, and they boated into Finlayson Arm.
Taylor said it didn’t take long for the dog to start barking, which soon turned into whimpering. It was about 26 C outside, he said, and the vehicle was parked in the open.
“It was crazy hot. She was whimpering and whining. I could tell she was in distress,” Taylor said. “It was scary. I could feel the heat radiating off her.”
Employees erected a tent over the vehicle and started hosing it down to reduce the interior temperature. Taylor used a hose to keep the dog’s water dish filled.
After about three hours, another RCMP officer came by and drove off with the truck and dog. The original officer didn’t come back from his boat trip for several more hours, Taylor said.
“I couldn’t believe this was a police vehicle,” he said. “If this had been any one of us, we’d would be charged right now.”
Lagan said the officer in question is a regular RCMP member, not a dog handler. The officer volunteered to train and assess the young shepherd as a police dog candidate. “This is something officers are passionate about, and chose to do beyond their regular work,” Lagan said. “Unfortunately this decision may negatively impact this officer’s position (training dogs) after putting in hundreds of hours towards this.”