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Police Work to Enforce Animal Safety During Heat Wave - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Police Work to Enforce Animal Safety During Heat Wave

Posted: Updated: July 16, 2013 04:56 PM
Charlottesville Police Animal Control Charlottesville Police Animal Control

Animal control officers are on the lookout for pets left in cars during this heat wave and they're doing whatever it takes to get them out.

It doesn't matter if the windows are cracked and it doesn't matter if the pet is only left in the car for a few minutes; you can be charged with animal cruelty.

Animal control officers say if you leave your furry friend in a hot car, it might be the last time you see them. Charlottesville police say an owner can be charged with a class one misdemeanor for leaving a pet inside a sweltering car.

"A class one misdemeanor for the person that leaves the animal inside the vehicle could net you a $2,500 fine and one year in jail," said Lieutenant Ronnie Roberts, spokesman for the Charlottesville Police Department. 

Jeffrey Duncan, an animal control officer with the Fluvanna County Sheriff's Office, says the owner can also be charged with a felony if the pet dies inside the car. Duncan says he does whatever it takes to get an animal out of a car, even if that means smashing windows open.

"If it's a bad situation, I'm not going to try to call somebody beforehand. It's more about the animal's safety first," he said.

Duncan says he was sent on 10 animal welfare calls Monday and has averaged five calls a day this summer.

Dr. Tuesday Carino with the Pantops Vet Hospital says a dog's body will shut down fast and on a hot day they can die in as little as 30 minutes. Once the dog's body reaches 105.8 degrees, permanent brain damage happens. At a body temperature of 109.4 degrees, the dog's body enzymes start to break down.

"The heart shuts down initially because it speeds up to keep up with the temperature and then it can't keep up and it shuts down," Carino said.

Animal control officers say once the dog is taken from the car the owner most likely will never get it back.

It can also be too hot for pets just outside in the backyard. Animal control officers want to remind people not to leave the same bowl of water outside all day long.

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