FARMINGTON — As temperatures continue to rise this summer, the danger associated with leaving pets in hot cars increases.
Over the past two weeks, animal control officers with the Farmington Police Department have responded to about half a dozen incidents of dogs being left in hot vehicles, according to a press release from the department.
Sgt. Baric Crum said in one incident officers went to a restaurant in east Farmington and found a dog inside a car. Officers are equipped with infrared thermometers, allowing them to take the temperature inside the vehicle. The thermometer read 142 degrees, Crum said.
Crum said the majority of cases police have responded to concern dogs left in vehicles while their owners went into restaurants or grocery stores. Some owners left their windows partially down, but others had the windows completely closed. In all of the cases, the dogs were left in the car for more than 10 minutes.
When confronted, Crum said some of the owners knew about the dangers of leaving dogs in cars, while others did not.
"On a 90 degree day, it doesn't take long for your vehicle to get super hot," Crum said.
In Farmington, the penalty for leaving a dog in a hot car is $100 for the first offense, and the penalty increases with each incident. Several citations have been issued in the last couple of weeks.
So far, Crum said the city has been fortunate, and no dogs this summer have died or been hospitalized as a result of being left in overheated cars.
If a dog dies or sustains significant heat stroke that leaves it impaired, the owner could be charged with felony animal abuse under a state statute, rather than the city ordinance.
The area has had more cloud cover and cooler weather than it did last year, Crum said, but conditions are changing, and the weather is getting hotter.
"It wouldn't surprise me if we do have an incident where a dog is found dead," Crum said.
Crum said animal control is actively patrolling parking lots looking for dogs in vehicles.
"We are going to take a proactive role to make sure this doesn't happen," he said.