Temperatures in the Prescott Valley area are approaching the upper 80s and will soon be in the 90s and above as summer approaches. That means, unfortunately, that people’s dogs are more often in danger from being left in hot cars.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals states that in outdoor temperatures of 85 degrees, it only takes 10 minutes for the inside of your car to reach 102 degrees. Within 30 minutes, a car’s interior temperature can climb from 85F to 120F. Cracking a window doesn’t help, because without a cool breeze, air doesn’t circulate.
Prescott Valley Animal Control officers already have answered several calls this spring from concerned citizens who see animals locked in cars with the owner nowhere around. While Arizona law recently changed to protect those who break a window to free an animal they believe is in distress, PV ACO Supervisor James Risinger asks people to consider carefully before taking such an action.
First and foremost, Risinger said, if you see an animal you believe is in distress, call 911. In Prescott Valley, if an Animal Control officer is not available, the police department will send an officer. He added that along with calling 911, people should exhaust all avenues to find the owner before doing something as drastic as breaking a window to free an animal.
“Though the law protects you if an animal is in true distress, if you are wrong, you could be held liable,” he said. Dogs are naturally protective of a vehicle, and could perceive someone breaking a window as a threat, leading to a bite. Additionally, if the person freeing the animal has not thought how they will contain it, they can be faced with a loose dog that becomes lost or worse.
“A trained Animal Control officer will know how to approach, free and contain an animal in distress. I always caution people that before they break a window to free an animal, they ask themselves if they have exhausted all resources available – have I called the police or the fire department? Checked surrounding areas for the owner?” he said. “If not, I seriously suggest you do not break that window.”
Risinger also has a few words for dog owners, who may not realize a “quick” trip into a store may mean the end of their pet’s life.
“The typical grocery shopping time is 15-45 minutes. Temperatures can skyrocket in a car in that time. The majority of time the owner never intended that, but they are not aware how quickly the temperature can change,” he said. “It’s better to leave your dog at home.”
Reach the Prescott Valley Police Department at 928-772-9267 for non-emergencies and 911 in emergencies. Reach the Central Yavapai Fire and Medical Authority at 928-772-7711 in non-emergencies and 911 in emergencies.