Animal advocates warn about leaving pets in hot cars

How much is that doggie in the car window?

It could be a $500 fine on a hot day.

A dog left inside a hot car for even a few minutes can be permanently injured or killed.

"Since July 1 of this year, we've had 47 calls for overheated dogs," said Jeffrey York of Warwick Animal Control.

That's 47 too many, York said. He said 41 of those calls were directly related to dogs in vehicles. And he said it can get hot fast.

"A day like today where it's 95 degrees, in 20 minutes, the car can reach 124 degrees inside," York said Thursday.

York said any temperature over 104 degrees cankill a dog, no matter its size, in less than five minutes.

"Why do you have to take a dog with you every single place you go with temperatures 90 degrees?" said Dr. E.J. Finocchio, president of the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Finocchio said he's fed up with seeing animals being left in cars.

"Leave them home for 15 or 20 minutes, an hour, when you go shopping. Nothing's going to happen to them. But something could happen when you take them with you," Finocchio said.

Something like what happened Tuesday at a big box store in Cranston. A 7-pound miniature pinscher died after being left in a car.

"We're going to pursue it," Finocchio said, "because there's no excuse for this."

Local animal lovers feel the same way.

Kathy Rouleau said she'd never leave her dog in a car on a hot day.

"Not at all. No, I would never. It makes me ill," she said. "I just can't imagine. I would never leave him in the car."

Police said if you encounter an animal left alone in a car on a hot day, it's important to call 911 immediately.