A POLICE dog who was at the centre of a retirement row last year, died of heatstroke at a training exercise West Mercia Police has revealed.

And a review has found factors which may have contributed to PD Ivy's death included a faulty fan that led to  hot air being drawn into the police vehicle she was in and being "over-exerted" in the days before her death.

And recommendations have been made after a review was carried out into the force's handling of police dogs, following the five-year-old dog's death.

PD Ivy died at a training exercise in Worcester in July 2018. The dog had been left in a climate-controlled pod in the back of a police vehicle. 

As it was a hot day, the vehicle's engine was left running to allow the air-conditioning to work.

When her handler returned to the vehicle to check on her, PD Ivy was found to be unwell and unresponsive.

Every effort was made to save PD Ivy's life, including officers delivering chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and the dog being rushed to the nearest vets with the police car using its emergency blue lights - but police say they had to make the difficult decision to have her put to sleep.

To establish the cause of her death, a post-mortem was conducted and West Mercia Police appointed an independent police force to conduct an investigation into the circumstances surrounding and leading up to her death.

The results have now been received and they confirm that PD Ivy died as a result of Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation, brought on by heatstroke.

West Mercia Police said it "accepted Ivy should not have died as a result of heatstroke" and called it a "harsh lesson."

Assistant Chief Constable Geoff Wessell from West Mercia Police said: "PD Ivy's death was a shock to us all, in particular for those who were with her that day, all of whom remain deeply affected by it.

"While our police dogs are working dogs and not pets, our handlers have a deep, trusting and loving bond with their dogs and I know how upset they would all have been as a result finding Ivy in this state. I know they acted swiftly to try and save her life.

"We accept that PD Ivy should not have died as a result of heatstroke and we have learned this very harsh lesson in the worst possible way.

"We have therefore taken on board everything that the review has identified."

In a statement, police said the review recognised that the care of West Mercia Police dogs was exceptionally good and that its handlers and trainers cared passionately about them, the report did identify 17 recommendations.

It read: "These recommendations will all be acted upon to ensure an incident of this nature never happens again. Many changes are already in the process of being implemented.

"The fan was identified as one of the contributing factors in PD Ivy's death so within 48 hours of the incident, the fan on every dog section vehicle in the fleet was inspected and found to be functioning correctly.

"In response to the recommendations, West Mercia Police has now committed to providing dog handlers with formal training and a qualification in canine first aid. The force will also be investing in new technology that can accurately monitor temperature and humidity within vehicles.

"A designated dog welfare officer has now been appointed to conduct regular checks on police dogs at all training events

"This report will also be shared nationally with all forces in England and Wales."

ACC Wessell added: "As a result of PD Ivy's tragic death which has highlighted the dangers that hot weather poses on dogs, we recognise that some of our policies and procedures require amending to prevent these circumstances from reoccurring.

"This is being done as a priority and resulting changes will be communicated to all of our dog handlers.

"I would like to personally thank Staffordshire Police for their balanced and thorough investigation and for recognising how much we do value and care for our police dogs."

Thousands signed a petition urging the force to let police dog Ivy go into retirement alongside her handler Sgt David Evans last year.

More: Heartbreak as dog Ivy and handler face separation

An online petition was signed by more than 130,000 people, after it was set up by Sgt Evans' daughter Jennie to keep the pair together, but the force refused.

At the time Chief Constable of West Mercia Police, Anthony Bangham, said: "PD Ivy is very young and has many years service ahead of her. She will therefore stay with the force and be re-handled with another officer."

More: Police dog Ivy has died