Conklin introduces legislation for K-9 heat detection and protection

Would require heat-detection devices in emergency vehicles transporting police dogs

HARRISBURG, June 7 – State Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Centre, is introducing legislation to protect K-9 officers from heat-related fatalities within police vehicles.

“The tragic loss of a police K-9 to overheating in Georgia just yesterday is a somber reminder of the dangers our K-9 officers face, not just in Pennsylvania, but across the country,” Conklin said. “These loyal dogs risk their lives to protect and serve, and we must do our part to ensure their safety.”

House Bill 1334 – informally known as Totti's Law to commemorate the K-9 officer that died from overheating in Pennsylvania in 2016 – would mandate that any emergency vehicle transporting a K-9 officer be fitted with a K-9 heat-detection device. These devices will trigger an alarm, honk the car horn and automatically lower the vehicle windows when a certain internal temperature is reached, potentially saving the lives of K-9 officers.

“This proposed legislation draws from painful experiences,” Conklin said. “Integrating these heat-detection devices into our police vehicles would prevent future tragedies, providing a safer environment for our K-9 officers.”

Conklin said the device cost – approximately $900 – is a small investment compared to the $20,000 cost of training a new police dog, but that there are concerns beyond financial ones.

"Our K-9 officers are an invaluable resource," Conklin noted. "Preserving their safety and well-being is not just a fiscal matter – it's a moral obligation."

Conklin said several police departments already use this technology and urged colleagues to support the bill.

“We've seen the devastating effects of heat exhaustion in our K-9 officers,” Conklin said. “As legislators, it's our duty to prevent such incidents. In honor of those K-9 officers that have fallen, the resilience of their handlers and the invaluable service these dogs provide, let's enact this legislation and effect meaningful change.”