JONESBORO, Ark. – It is an issue Jonesboro police have been dealing with in large quantities lately but it happens across the area and the world every year when weather turns warm: people leaving pets, namely dogs, inside of locked vehicles.
At least three separate incidents have occurred across the City of Jonesboro this week with dog owners leaving their pets inside of a vehicle. Temperatures breached and well-exceeded 100 degrees in some cases, with one helpful Jonesboro officer giving dog water through the open window.
According to PETA.org, on a 78-degree day, a parked vehicle’s temperature reach between 100 and 120 degrees in just minutes. On days like this week, with temperature across Northeast Arkansas reaching 90-degrees, the interior temperature can reach as high as 160 degrees in less than 10 minutes.
Another scary statistic PETA’s article reports is that animals can suffer permanent brain damage in as little as 15 minutes from these conditions.
Larry Rogers, supervisor with Jonesboro Animal Control, described it in even worse detail.
“It’s a brutal, agonizing death for the animal,” Rogers said. “A dog’s core body temp is 101.5 degrees, but dogs are more sensitive to the heat because they cannot cool themselves properly. Their body temperature reaches 104 and they start having problems. They’ll go into panting, trying to catch their breath. The next thing you know, they’ll get dizzy, wobbling around. They’ll end up seizing and having a heat stroke, their kidneys, their liver, all their internal organs shut down and they die. ”
Several in Jonesboro have been cited for animal cruelty over leaving animals in hot vehicles, even when they told officers they were only away for a few minutes.
As the numbers indicate, those dogs only had a few minutes before dangerous results.
“We’ve answered several calls a day, on it,” Rogers said. “Whenever we do, we cite that person for animal cruelty. That can be up to a class A misdemeanor charge. That can be punishable up to a year in the county jail, up to 1,000 fine, or both. It just depends on how serious it is but it actually is a fine line. If a person tortures or causes an animal to suffer to the point of it dying, that person can be charged with a felony then.”
Many states have laws allowing emergency procedures to rescue dogs in hot cars, such as busting out a window, but Arkansas has no such law.
However, officers will remain with the vehicle and cite the owner for animal cruelty when they return, as has been seen in the City of Jonesboro.
“People are eyes and ears and if you see something, say something and you don’t even have to give your name if you don’t want to,” Rogers said. “We respond immediately. They can either call animal control or dispatch. They will send an officer if we’re busy.”