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 a factor in PD Ivy's death was a faulty fan that led to hot air being drawn into the police vehicle she was in and she was "over-exerted" in the days before her death.

Recommendations have now been made after the review examined the force's handling of police dogs, following the five-year-old dog's death.

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

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.

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

PD Ivy died at a firearms training exercise in Worcester on a hot day in July. Despite efforts to save PD Ivy's life, including officers delivering chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, she was put to sleep at the vets after being rushed there under blue lights.

To establish the cause of her death a post-mortem was conducted and West Mercia Police appointed an independent police force, Staffordshire Police, to investigate.

The investigation found PD Ivy died as a result of Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation, brought on by heatstroke. Police say while her handler was attending the training session, PD Ivy remained within the climate controlled pod in the back of a police vehicle, with the engine left running to allow the air conditioning to work.

But Staffordshire Police's report found one of the factors that might have contributed to the death was the failure of the roof fan extraction system. The report said, on examination, the fan "moved in only one direction and this was to 'intake' air into the pods".

"The fact that the vehicle would have been in direct sunlight for the duration of the morning, the body of the vehicle is most likely to have been at a temperature significantly in excess of the ambient air temperature," the review said.

"Air drawn into the vehicle will have been very hot."

The report also concluded the dog was "over exerted" in the days prior to her death.

The force says within 48 hours of her death the fan on every dog section vehicle in the fleet was inspected, and found to be functioning correctly.

Assistant Chief Constable Geoff Wessell from West Mercia Police said: "PD Ivy's death was a shock to us all.

"While our police dogs are working dogs and not pets, our handlers have a deep, trusting and loving bond 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."

The review recognised the care of West Mercia Police dogs is "exceptionally good" and handlers and trainers cared passionately about them, but the report identified 17 recommendations including investing in new technology that can accurately monitor temperature and humidity within vehicles.

Dog handlers are also to be given formal training and a qualification in canine first aid.

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

Police say recommendations will be acted upon and changes were already underway to "ensure an incident of this nature never happens again".

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."

The report is being shared nationally with all forces in England and Wales.

A spokesman for West Mercia Police said there was no case for misconduct with anyone involved.

Sgt Evans was unavailable for comment.

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."