UK police handler to be prosecuted over dog deaths

Tue Jul 21, 2009 9:34am EDT
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A British police dog handler is to be prosecuted over the deaths of two German shepherd dogs which were left in a car outside a police headquarters on one of the hottest days of the year, an animal charity said on Tuesday.

The police dogs were left by the handler inside a private vehicle parked outside Nottinghamshire police headquarters earlier this month as Britain basked in a heatwave with temperatures reaching almost 30 degrees Celsius.

"We are going to be taking legal proceedings against the officer," said a spokesman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), which carries out private prosecutions in animal cruelty cases.

The officer, who has not been identified, is charged with causing unnecessary suffering to the dogs, the spokesman said. If found guilty, he faces a maximum sentence of six months in jail or a 20,000 pound fine.

A spokeswoman for Nottinghamshire police said the officer had been suspended following a review of the incident and an internal investigation was ongoing.

At the time, the force said the handler was distraught about the deaths.

"This is a tragic incident and we value the important work our police dogs carry out on a daily basis," said Assistant Chief Constable Peter Davies.

(Reporting by Michael Holden, editing by Kate Kelland and Paul Casciato)