Leaving your pet in a hot car can land you jail - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Leaving your pet in a hot car can land you jail

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

The South is known for its hospitality and its heat.  As the temperature continues to rise, incidents of pets left alone in cars follows suit.

"It's a form of animal cruelty. The dog has no choice. They're just at your mercy," said Dr. Hank Hall at Northside Animal Hospital.

Running into a store for a quick second could put your pet at risk.  Dr. Hall says hot dogs belong on buns, not in cars.

"When you put them in enclosed cars, temperatures even on a 70 degree day can reach over 100 degrees in a matter of minutes," Dr. Hall says.

In Muscogee County, it's the temperature inside the car that not only puts your pet at risk but you as well.

"If you look at our cruelty ordinance which is 5-12, you'll find that it states if the temperature inside the car exceeds 85 degrees, then we will issue a citation for animal cruelty. If it is severe we may take the animal from you," Animal Care and Control Director Drale Short says.

Animal Care and Control uses a thermometer to check the temperature inside cars. If the animal is left alone inside a car, they'll point the thermometer inside to check the temperature.

"Even when you crack the windows it's still extremely hot. They can perspire quite like we do. They will perspire a little bit between their toes. They pant giving off moisture through the mouth. If you see a dog panting heavily, the tongue hanging out, they're trying to cool themselves down."

Animal Care and Control are not the only ones enforcing the city's ordinance.

"We get a lot of calls about animals being left unattended."

People are passionate about their pets and yours. Viewers are sounding off on our Facebook page.

Viewer Jaimie Wadkins says, "… I've already announced on my FB page a few weeks ago, that if I see any pet left in a vehicle, I WOULD be calling the police. I don't care if it's a friend or anything."

Another viewer says, "…I would call the police or break the glass. [It] depends if pets was in distress."

Officials say doing the latter can land you in jail.

"We do not condone someone damaging someone else's personal property to get to an animal," Drale Short says. "Allow your law enforcement agencies to handle it. You don't want to take that into your own hands because you could be held accountable. Call the police. Let Animal Care and Control know we'll resolve the problem."

According to Short, very few cases have been reported so far this year. However, Dr. Hall says he did treat several pets for heat stroke last year.

Anyone violating the city ordinance is subject to fines of $1,000, or imprisonment of 90 days, or both.

Dr. Hall says the best option is to simply leave your pets at home.

Copyright 2013 WTVM. All rights reserved.

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