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SOURCE: wrex.com
ROCKFORD (WREX) – As Illinois welcomes 2019, the state prepares for more than 200 new laws. One of those laws aims to protect police K9s.

Winnebago County Sheriff’s Deputy Nathan Fey and his K9 partner Diego have been a team for about three years. For almost that entire time, the pair have been equipped with a special mechanism to keep a close eye on Diego.

The device is in the car and regulates the temperature within Diego’s kennel. Illinois law now requires all K9 vehicles are equipped with this device. If the temperature reaches 85 degrees, it immediately jumps into action.

“The alarm will activate, the horn will go off, and then both rear windows will go down which is why we have cages so no one can reach into the vehicle when it’s going off,” says Fey. “Then the exhaust van attached to the door on the K9 side will activate to take that hot heat and blow it outside the car.”

Deputy Fey says he can’t always be with Diego in the car.

“We may be inside a house figuring out a situation we were dispatched to,” says Fey. “That could be an hour at a time. With that dog being back there you want to make sure it’s being regulated as accurately as possible to make sure the dog is safe. ”

Because Diego is not only his partner who helps keep him safe, he’s family.

“Anybody that has animals, it’s like a child to you taking care of it. In this case, the K9 is just like taking care of a five-year-old of your own.”