One Northwest county is taking a hard line against dog owners who leave man’s best friend in a hot car this summer. Animal protection officers in Spokane County, Wash., say a prolonged trip to the mall could earn you criminal charges for animal cruelty – and a broken window.
At the county animal shelter outside Spokane, the number of dogs rescued from cars tends to go up with the mercury. Unlike many parts of Washington, Oregon and Idaho, animal control officers here have the authority to break into vehicles.
Officer Nicole Montano’s done it. “Our department has made this a priority, this type of response. Because we know that it may be life or death for that animal.”
Montano recalls one black lab she tried to rescue while its owner was at the movies. “The windows were completely rolled up. It was only 75 degrees that day. By the time I got there, the dog was lateral in the backseat of the car, unresponsive," Montano says. "I ended up having to cut into the top of the convertible to get the doors open and when I cut into the top of the convertible, steam hit me in the face.”
Montano says the car owners are sometimes angry. But she says more bystanders are noticing overheated dogs and proactively calling them in.
Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network