Rockview prison increases security after dog’s death

Every year, police and safety groups warn about the dangers of leaving pets or kids in a car on a hot day.

A local prison learned exactly why.

On July 7, a state Department of Corrections drug dog at Rockview state prison died after overheating.

According to The Weather Channel, the high that day was 86 degrees. Totti, a 2-year-old yellow Labrador retriever, was “accidentally left in a vehicle” during a training.

The DOC released a timeline for the incident. At 12:15 p.m., Totti’s handler stored training items in his vehicle after the session was over.

At 2:44 p.m., the handler realized Totti was locked in the car, too.

The American Veterinary Medical Association says by that time, the temperature within the car would have been more than 130 degrees.

“When the handler realized this fact, he and others rushed to the vehicle and began emergency care of the dog, including hosing him down and carefully cooling him with ice,” the DOC said in a statement.

At 2:58 p.m., Totti was taken to the veterinarian. The dog was conscious at the time, according to the DOC, but did not survive.

“Everyone involved was incredibly and understandably upset and concerned for the dog,” the department release stated. “This has been very devastating for everyone involved.”

It has also had an impact on security.

On Wednesday, the day after information on Totti’s death was released, there appeared to be a heightened guard presence at Rockview campus buildings.

Amy Worden, DOC spokeswoman, confirmed that.

“The extra security is in anticipation of a possible protest over the dog incident,” she said.

DOC Secretary John Wetzel initiated an investigation into Totti’s death on Tuesday. Worden said no further comment could be given on the incident during the active investigation.

They are not the only ones concerned.

“Since we have learned of this dog’s death, we have requested an investigation and have also been contacted by Rockview investigators who are freely sharing information at this point,” said Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller.

The DA’s office has made crimes against animals a priority under Parks Miller’s administration, taking on the mistreatment and shooting of dogs, theft of snakes and transportation of cattle in dangerously cold temperatures all with zeal.

“We take all matters where animals are harmed very seriously,” she said.

The DOC has been training drug dogs since 1995. The animals have been trained at the Quehanna boot camp in the Karthaus area in nearby Clearfield County, but those operations are being relocated to Rockview.

Lori Falce: 814-235-3910, @LoriFalce