HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An internal affairs investigation is underway at the Honolulu Police Department after two dogs belonging to a man arrested earlier this year died because they were left in his van for 24 hours.
Several police officers including a sergeant and lieutenant at HPD's main receiving desk could face discipline for failing to follow-up and arrange for the care of three dogs left in the man's van outside police headquarters, sources said.
On Saturday, January 24, a man who parked his van on Hotel Street outside the main police cell block was arrested on some warrants, according to sources and an HPD spokeswoman.
He had his three pit bull dogs inside the van and told police he was going to call someone to pick up the dogs, sources said. The officers on shift at the receiving desk were supposed to follow up with officers on the next watch to make sure the dogs were retrieved, a source said. But that never happened.
"Those animals suffered intensely for 24 hours and it's a horrible way to die," said Cathy Goeggel, president of Animal Rights Hawaii.
The three dogs remained in the van outside the police department without ventilation or water for 24 hours. They were taken to the Hawaiian Humane Society and evaluated by veterinarians. The owner had a vet put two of the dogs to sleep because of their serious medical conditions, sources said. A third dog survived.
A source familiar with the case said both dogs that died "suffered severe symptoms of heat stroke, they had both lost their eyesight due to brain damage from over-heating and were barely responsive."
HPD said it does not require officers to notify the Hawaiian Humane Society or other animal care agency if a pet owner is arrested.
"HPD doesn't have a policy that addresses this type of situation," a police spokeswoman said. "However, officers will generally try to assist the owner in making arrangements for their pets."
"The police certainly did drop the ball on this, even if they don't have any rules, it's just a matter of human compassion to want to make sure that those animals are OK," Goeggel said.
She said HPD needs to create and follow a policy to protect animals in the future.
"It's obviously quite ridiculous and needs to be addressed immediately, because I'm sure this isn't the first time something like this has happened," Goeggel said.
Hawaii is not one of the 16 states with laws that specifically prohibit leaving an animal in a confined vehicle.
On a hot, sunny day when it's 85 degrees outside, the temperature inside a car can shoot up to 104 degrees in 10 minutes and keep increasing to 119 degrees after just a half hour.