Pet owners warned about leaving animal in cars during heat wave

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Town of Cary is sending out an urgent warning to pet owners not to leave their animals locked in hot, stuffy cars during this heat wave. Animal Control has responded to five calls within a 24-hour time span.

The most disturbing case was outside the Walmart on Kildaire Farm Road.

"I was able to get a temperature reading. It was 135 degrees in the vehicle, and the owner had been in the store at least 55 minutes," said Cary Animal Control Supervisor Shelly Smith.

A passerby spotted the dog stuck inside a car and called 911.

"When I first responded to the call, I looked in the vehicle and I didn't see a dog in there," said Smith. "I asked the complainant 'Are you sure the dog's in there?' And she says 'Yeah he's underneath the driver's seat.' The reason he's underneath the driver's seat is because he's trying to stay cool."

Smith said as the dog was baking, the owners were inside the store strolling around and shopping.

"I removed the dog from the vehicle. So I had the dog in my air conditioning running at the time waiting for the owners to come out," said Smith.

That owner was cited, as was another owner who allegedly left her dog in the car outside the Burlington Coat Factory on Buck Jones Road.

The town is reminding owners never to leave behind their pets, regardless if there's shade or the windows are cracked.

"People get sidetracked and forget their four-legged friend is in the car cooking," said Smith. "There's people out there who love their animals enough that they want to take them riding. They don't want to keep them tied to a tree and forgotten about. They make them a part of the family routine. I think that's awesome. However you've got to use good judgement. You can't leave them in a car when it's 135 degrees in there."

The owners ticketed could face a $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail.

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