A puppy was left inside a hot vehicle in a Riverside parking lot on Thursday afternoon, a day when temperatures in the area were expected to soar past 100 degrees.
Riverside County Animal Services responded to rescue the dog, a female poodle mix about 3 months old, just before 2 p.m. Thursday.
"This is a misdemeanor. It’s also very stupid," said John Welsh, a spokesman for the county animal services department, in an email.
The minivan was left with a cracked window in the parking lot of a Walmart in the 5200 block of on Van Buren Road (map).
An announcement was made inside the store, and the owner came outside, a security guard told an NBC4 reporter on the scene. The owner, whose name was not released, will be fined $100 plus a $21 processing fee, Welsh said.
The puppy was impounded, the department tweeted. Welsh said the dog's name was Sheri. The owner -- who had just got the dog that day -- had intended to only be in the store for a short time, Welsh said.
But on a hot day, he said, a dog shouldn't be left unattended in a car for any amount of time.
A tow-truck company had been called to the scene to open the vehicle's window, which Welsh said would be smashed to get the pooch out, if necessary. An animal control officer was able to jimmy one of the doors open.
Welsh said animal control Officer Will Luna, shown below, had taken the dog to a nearby county shelter in Jurupa Valley, where it was treated for hyperthermia by a veterinary technician. The dog's temperature was 103.7, about 1.7 degrees above normal, Welsh said.
"Fatal could be 104+ … so it was a close call," Welsh wrote in an email.
Sheri responded quickly to an IV that was inserted to hydrate her, Welsh said. She was returned to her owner
In hot, sunny weather, cars can heat up very quickly, even with a window cracked. Such conditions can lead to fatal heat stroke in animals.
“It was still much too hot for that little dog,” Luna said in a news release.
Under California law, leaving an animal unattended in a car in conditions that could harm it is punishable by a fine of up to $100 on first offense or $500 if the animal is seriously injured. Subsequent offenses can result in a fine of up to $500 and/or up to six months in jail.
Police and animal control officers are authorized under state law to use all steps "reasonably necessary" to remove the animal from the car.
A hazardous weather outlook was in effect for southwestern California because of a heat wave that is expected to bring near-record high temperatures to much of the region.
A high of 101 was forecast for Riverside on Thursday. This weekend, an excessive heat warning is slated to be in effect both Saturday and Sunday, with highs between 116 and 122 in the lower deserts.
The National Weather Service warned the public to reschedule strenous outdoor activities to early morning or evening. People should wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing and drink plenty of water.
During hot weather, the ASPCA has the following recommendations for pet owners:
- Keep dogs and cats indoors and allow them in cool areas of the home with access to cool water;
- Keep dog walks short and be aware that paws may burn on hot pavement;
- Play with your pets at night and in early morning, when it is cooler;
- If you take your dog to the beach, make sure it has access to shade and cool, clean water to drink;
- Never leave an animal alone in a car in hot weather.
In a news release, Riverside County Chief Veterinarian Dr. Allan Drusys issued a warning to pet owners.
"Leaving a pet inside a vehicle when we are going to be facing 100-degree days is inexcusable," Dr. Allan Drusys said. "But even when the temperatures drop back to more reasonable patterns, we still advise against taking your pet along when you’re doing your supermarket runs. It just doesn’t take long for an animal to suffer in such hot conditions."
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