DOWNEY - Officials from the Southeast Area Animal Control Authority (SEAACA) are asking local residents to consider the risks when traveling with pets this summer.Last summer, SEAACA emergency dispatchers received an average of 14 calls each month for distressed animals locked inside hot vehicles, officials said. An adult rottweiler died in Norwalk last summer when its owner forgot to take her out of the car, said Capt. Aaron Reyes, director of operations for SEAACA. When the owner finally returned to the car an hour later, the dog was in shock. The rottweiler died of heat stroke. "The owners were remorseful and loved their dog - it was so sad to see the pain they felt, but also the pain they caused their Rottie, who had been a part of their family for 10 years," Reyes said. Another family left their Yorkshire terrier in the car while they ate breakfast at a Montebello restaurant. When SEAACA officials arrived the temperature inside the car was measured at 110 degrees. The dog was panting heavily and the family ran outside when they saw animal control officers preparing to enter the vehicle. "They, too, clearly loved their dog, but did not see the danger in leaving the dog in the car while they ate breakfast," Reyes said. The terrier survived, and was returned to its owners after a "stern warning" and cursory examination. Also last summer, a Northern California family left their terrier inside the car as they visited Knott's Berry Farm. Passer-bys noticed the dog panting and called SEAACA officers, who arrived in 10 minutes. As officers surveyed the situation, the family's teenage son returned to the car to check on the dog. The parents were called and the terrier was saved. The dog was slightly overheated and was "clearly beginning to panic inside the vehicle," Reyes said. The family was offered "humane education" before given possession of their pet. The vacationing family was warned not to leave the dog inside the vehicle as they left for their next stop, a San Diego theme park. "Laws are in place to protect the animals from our negligence as pet owners," Reyes said. Reyes said SEAACA officers will impound animals left in hot vehicles. Arrests will be made if the animal shows sign of distress, he added. Negligent pet owners could face fines and jail time, Reyes warned. Anyone who spots an animal left inside a vehicle is asked to call SEAACA at (562) 803-3301 or 911 in urgent cases.
********** Published: July 17, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 13