Police Boiling Over Hot Dogs

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On four separate incidents Saturday, Payson Police Sgt. Rod Mamero had to field calls of dogs left alone in locked cars.

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Payson police are cracking down on people who leave their dogs locked in their cars during the hot summer months. Some officers carry thermometers they can slip through a cracked window.

"Would you lock your child inside a car in 95-degree heat?" Mamero asked.

Police officers remind people that leaving dogs in vehicles in summer temperatures while running errands could not only risk the life of your pet, but could get you charged with a misdemeanor or felony crime.

Arizona state law permits officers to remove an animal from a potentially dangerous situation and cite the responsible party for a crime under the cruelty to animal statutes.

"The first thing we would do is get whatever aid is necessary to help the dog and if that entails damaging the vehicle, so be it," Mamero said. "We would make an attempt to contact the owner but if we don't get a response fairly quickly we are going to do what it takes to ensure the welfare of the animal."

Animal Control Officer Don Tanner has responded to calls of dogs locked in cars amidst the summer heat and even carries a temperature gauge with him.

"It comes in real handy," Tanner said. "I can slip it through a cracked window and get an accurate reading of the temperature."

Tanner has had to enter vehicles to get overheated animals out and cited those who were responsible.

"I really think people don't understand how hot it gets inside cars, even if the windows are cracked," he said. "They don't realize the temperature inside a vehicle compared to the outside temperature.

Tanner said in outside temperatures approaching 100 degrees, it can reach 200 degrees inside a car with the windows shut.

"It would be like you putting on a fur coat and climbing in the vehicle with the windows cracked," Tanner said.

A Roundup experiment revealed that an oven thermometer placed in a car with the windows cracked for a half hour at noon with an outside temperature of 80 degrees, measured 150 degrees on the seat of the vehicle.

Veterinarian Sandra Snyder of Payson Pet Care said it doesn't take much time to endanger or kill a dog in high temperatures.

"It can be a very dangerous situation," Snyder said. "A car that is 140 degrees or more is not survivable after 10 minutes."

Snyder said as a dogs body temperature rises, it begins to get anxious and pant which raises their temperature even higher.

"The heart rhythm and blood flow changes and they lose consciousness," Snyder said. "Toy breeds get dehydrated very easily and their trachea can collapse and they have a hard time breathing. Overweight animals don't tolerate heat well at all and can have trouble breathing and collapse."

Snyder said by the time an animal loses consciousness, it is an extremely critical situation.

"There are some times when it is better to leave your dog at home," Snyder said. "I think people who leave their dogs in cars should have to sit in there themselves and see what it feels like."

Snyder and Tanner said leaving a water dish in a car does not make a difference.

"Water won't change the temperatures inside the car," Snyder said.

"Of course they leave a bowl of water but that water will reach 110 degrees and who will drink that?" Tanner said.

Payson Police Officer Joni Varga responded to three of the four calls Saturday of dogs in the oppressive temperatures.

"Anyone who went to graduation knows how hot it was Saturday," Varga said.

Varga found dogs locked in two different vehicles in at Wal-Mart Saturday.

"You always get owners who say ‘I love my dog and I would never do anything to hurt it,' but you don't show love by locking your dog in a vehicle," Varga said. "It's a quality-of-life issue and for some people, it's not the right time to own a dog. People have good intentions but sometimes they just don't get it."

"If you are traveling, have someone stay in the car with the dog and the air conditioner on," Mamero said. "Just use your common sense."

The main goal for police officers is to educate people about the risks of leaving pets in hot cars, but if warranted, Mamero said they won't hesitate to charge someone with the crime of cruelty to an animal.

"We get paid to protect the lives and property of the city," Mamero said. "It doesn't have to be just human lives."

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