Don't leave your pet in a hot car

Leaving a dog or cat in a hot car puts the pet's life in danger. Leave pets at home if they are not welcome in the facility where their owner is going. The animal cruelty ordinance will be enforced.
Staff Writer

Mississippi will soon be going into the dog days of summer. Hot, hazy and humid will be in the weather forecast for the next several months. This is the wrong time of year to leave a pet in the car while shopping.

According to the ASPCA website, a vehicle can quickly reach a temperature that puts a pet at risk of serious illness and even death, even on a day that doesn't seem hot. And cracking the windows makes no difference. Even if the temperature outside the car is 70 degrees, it can climb within one hour to 115 degrees.

"People really need to leave their pets at home this time of the year," Animal Control Officer Steve Scott said. "The heat in a car can rise quickly and a dog inside that car can die. For some reason people like to take their pets with them in the summer when they go shopping. This is a very bad idea."

Scott said Walmart is the worst place in West Point for leaving dogs in a hot car.

"No one runs in Walmart for just a minute," Scott said. "If you brought your dog, please leave the car running and the air conditioning on. Cracking a window will not help. If it’s too hot for you in that car it is too hot for your pet."

Scott said it is considered animal cruelty to leave a pet in the car and he will write a ticket for the offense.

"If someone calls me that there is a dog in a car," Scott said. "I'm coming and I am going to give you a ticket. It's going to cost $470. And you aren't going to charm me into changing my mind. I take animal cruelty very seriously."

If an animal is seen shut up in a car, don't knock out a window, Scott said. Call 911. Report to them what the car looks like, the license number and where in the parking lot the car is located. They will call the Animal Control Officer and he will be dispatched to the scene.

Knocking out a window would probably get a Good Samaritan arrested.

"They will dispatch me," Scott said. "I got a call recently, it took me about 5 minutes to get there. It took a few more minutes to locate the vehicle. I had the license number from the car, called it in and got the name of the owner. I went inside and had that person paged. That took several more minutes. Then the owner of the vehicle finally arrived and was trying to pull away."

He stood behind the vehicle and wouldn't let it back out. He told the driver that they had violated the animal cruelty ordinance and he was going to ticket them.

"Then the person said they had only been inside the store 5 minutes," Scott said. "I told them that from the time he was called until they came to the car was more than 15 minutes. They took the ticket, not knowing how much it was and drove off."

Scott said he gets a few calls a month but expects that number to go up now that hot weather has arrived.

"I want people to know they are going to get a ticket," Scott said. "I want them to know it's going to cost them almost $500. The best thing is to keep your pets at home if they aren't welcome in the store."

He said a heat index of 100 degrees outside will be 125 degrees in a car with the windows down a half-inch within a few minutes. The longer the car sits there the hotter it's going to get.

"The animal cruelty ordinance may not have been enforced before, but it is now," Scott said. "Everyone says they were only gone for 5 minutes. It is never only 5 minutes. If you love your pet, leave them home in the summer."

With the hot weather, comes the need for galvanized steel buckets at the West Point Clay County Animal Shelter. These are used as water buckets for the kennels. They hang on the side of the kennel and the dog can drink as it needs to. The shelter needs about 70 buckets. For more information to help with buckets for the WPCCAS, call 524-4430.