Animal Welfare begins cracking down on dogs left in hot cars

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The dog days of summer aren’t even here yet, but Animal Welfare is already responding to calls about people leaving their dogs in hot cars.

Animal Welfare says it’s getting more than a dozen calls a day about this and they are not giving out warnings.

“In the mornings we probably get about three calls, in the afternoon they can get about 10 calls of animals left in hot vehicles,” said Cpl. Kathryn Waite, Animal Welfare.

While the temperatures outside have been pretty mild, “I would say starting at about 65, 70 degrees is when we start getting the calls for dogs locked in the vehicle,” Waite said.

Animal Welfare says inside a parked car, the temperatures can quickly become dangerous, especially for dogs.

“It can go up within 20 degrees, in just a matter of seconds,” Waite said.

Officers are already rushing to these priority calls.

On Sunday, an Animal Welfare officer responded to a Smith’s on Coors and Central.

“The temperature read inside 117 degrees, two dogs were locked in the vehicle. They were panting and in distress, that officer was able to retrieve those animals,” Waite said.

Animal Welfare says a lot of the calls come in from shopping centers, movies theater parking lots and even the zoo.

In both recent cases, the owners were cited.

“If you’re getting up to 10 calls a day just right now and it’s spring time, those officers are giving out citations, they’re not going out and just giving an education,” Waite said.

And as it gets warmer, the likelihood of people facing more serious charges increases.

“If the animal is actually in distress or dies in the vehicle, you’re looking at possibly a fourth degree felony for extreme cruelty to an animal,” Waite said.

A citation from Animal Welfare for leaving a dog in a hot car is a petty misdemeanor and can cost up to $500 or up to 90 days in jail.

Animal Welfare says if you see a dog locked in a hot car even with temperatures in the 70s, you should call 311 or 911.

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