Dog lovers are on high alert in the valley. On Saturday, just days after a dog died in a hot car, there was swift action in the parking lot at the Arden Fair Mall. It was 1:30 in the afternoon, 85 degrees and the sun was bearing down on an SUV with two dogs inside.
Just three minutes after that SUV was parked, a concerned shopper reported seeing the dogs.
“It’s probably more frequent this year than it ever has been,” Steve Reed, the head of mall security, says this is the eighth time in eight weeks dogs have been rescued from hot cars.
“On probably three of those occasions the dogs were actually in distress; barking, panting and in one case the dog was trying to chew his way through the glass to get out,” says Reed.
Sixteen minutes later police show up. 36 minutes later animal control arrives. Security video shows an animal control officer sticking a digital thermometer inside a slightly open window: the reading … 116 degrees. But it was probably hotter because the door to the SUV was open and the air conditioning had been on for four minutes.
As the news traveled mall goers were stunned. ”It felt like 95, 100 degrees. Humid,” said Vincent Zembo, who struggled with the blast of heat inside his own car.
But dog lover Lisa Lopez was more pointed. “It makes me sick. They need to change the laws, seriously.” “Change them to what?” asked FOX40’s John Lobertini. “Make them more strict!” she said emphatically.
Last Wednesday, 21-year-old Tiandra Davis was charged with cruelty to animals after her six-month-old puppy died in a hot car. It was 93 degrees that day in Folsom, and the dog may have been alone in the car for 2 ½ hours.
“Locked in a hot car without sufficient cooling air, it fries your brain,” and that can start to happen in as little as ten minutes says Gina Knepp with Sacramento City Animal Control.
The unidentified owner was hit with a $500 fine for leaving her dogs in unsafe conditions. “We can charge them criminally or we can do an administrative citation which is a violation of the city code; which is what we opted to do this time. And we take into consideration the condition of the animal. In this case the animals were fine,” Knepp says.
These incidents are sending shockwaves across the country. PETA, the premiere animal rights group in America, dispatched a list of safety precautions to news organizations throughout the valley from the main headquarters in Washington D.C.