7 reports of animals left in cars, without water in Springfield during heat wave

(File/SBG image)

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - Police responded to 7 reports of animals in crisis due to heat on Wednesday as record heat and unhealthy levels of air pollution from wildfire smoke gripped the southern Willamette Valley.

"Three of the seven vehicles were gone when animal control or police arrived on scene, but of the remaining four, one was deemed to be safe within a vehicle with adequate water, parked in shade with significant ventilation and wind to aid in cooling," police said in a statement.

Police issued an "urgent reminder that heat can kill animals deprived of water and confined inside of a hot vehicle within minutes" in response to the rash of cases Wednesday.

The people cited face Second Degree Animal Neglect, which is a Class B misdemeanor and can carry up to a $750 fine.

DID YOU KNOW? Oregon law now allows citizens to break a car window to free a child or pet from a hot car under certain circumstances.

Police provided these summaries of each case:

At 11:20 a.m. authorities responded to a report of a Yorkshire Terrier inside of a parked car with the windows up in the parking lot of the Grocery Outlet at 14th and Main Street. Using a handheld infra-red skin temperature monitor, our animal control officer found the skin temperature of the Yorkie measured at 110 degrees Fahrenheit; this after a Samaritan had opened the car providing ventilation and water to the lethargic dog.
At 1:56 p.m authorities responded to a report of a Shihtzu inside of a parked car with the windows cracked open in the area of 4th and B Street. Using a handheld infra-red skin temperature monitor, the skin temperature of the Shihtzu was measured at 114 degrees Fahrenheit after being within the car in this condition for under an hour.
Later at the Shari’s Restaurant on Pioneer Parkway in Springfield, a passerby reported seeing a lethargic cat and dog inside a parked car in the parking lot outside the restaurant. The animals had apparently been left within the vehicle during lunch and again were inside of a ventilated car for under an hour, but still their skin temperatures were 113 degrees respectively. The domesticated medium hair cat and Dauchshund in this case were both lethargic and critically overheated.

Police said the animals appeared to recover "once intervention and treatment arrived."

Springfield Police said the people cited "underestimated the time it takes for temperatures inside the vehicles to reach critical stages and the animals conditions to become critically urgent."

Police offered these final thoughts on the topic:

Dependent upon the size, weight, and time of exposure without water, an animal can succumb to heat stroke, brain damage or death in minutes (40-90 minutes) dependent upon the outside temperature.
The skin temperature for an animal within a hot car under normal conditions can be expected to be 90 to 95 degrees under circumstances with good ventilation and water. Animals left in these circumstances should be checked upon frequently but officials urge it is never advisable to leave animals inside unattended vehicles under the extreme heat we are currently experiencing in our region.
Springfield Animal Control Officer Brian Austin has been working long hours the past two days in hopes of educating the public about the risks associated with heat exposure to animals. If you would like further information about this topic, Officer Austin can be reached at (541) 726-3634. Emergencies involving pets should be reported to police via 911, other related animal service calls can be reported to Springfield police at (541)726-3614.
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