Animal control officer investigates pets left unattended in vehicles<BR>

Temperatures in Kingman are in the 90s and rising.

But the hot weather hasn't stopped some pet owners from doing something that is illegal and could be deadly: leaving animals unattended in closed vehicles with no escape from the heat.

Animal control officer Charlotte Candelaria, who is employed through the Kingman Police Department, has investigated four such calls in the past week, said KPD spokeswoman Tracie McKnight.

Candelaria, the only full-time animal control officer who works within city limits, was called to a local supermarket last week after a customer alerted an employee that a dog was inside a vehicle in the parking lot.

On Tuesday Candelaria was called to a local restaurant by someone who noticed some kittens inside a closed vehicle.

"When I got there, I discovered the owners of the kittens had just gone in to talk to the manager of the restaurant to see if there was somewhere they could put their kittens while they ate lunch.

The situation was resolved," she said.

"Most of the time, if a pet owner has only been gone a few minutes and the pet is OK I will issue a warning: 'Leave your pets at home in the shade.

If you do it again (leave the animal in an unattended vehicle in the heat of the day), I will cite you for cruelty to animals,'" Candelaria said.

She almost never sees repeat offenders, she said.

Candelaria will not cite pet owners for leaving animals in the vehicle if the vehicle is left running and the air conditioner is on.

But leaving a car running is not an option if children are in the vehicle, she said.

Lane Plunkett, supervisor of all three animal shelters in Mohave County, said most calls that come into the county involve pets that have been left at home without food, water or shade.

"When animals are left in vehicles, it most often occurs when pet owners go shopping in the cities.

"When temperatures are in the 90s and 100s, it is best to leave dogs at home in the shade, rather than in a car that could become as hot as an oven," Plunkett said.

Dogs left in an unattended vehicle for too long could experience heatstroke, he said.

Heatstroke, characterized by excessive panting and salivation, vomiting, an anxious or staring expression, a fast pulse rate and high body temperature, can cause brain damage, and even death.

Patrol officers who see an animal that may be in danger of a heatstroke as a result of being left in a vehicle, also investigate.

"We get quite a few calls regarding animals being left in vehicles, even with 100 degree temperatures," McKnight said.

"Even with the windows cracked, it is still too hot to let pets stay in vehicles."

On a hot summer day the inside of a car heats very quickly.

On an 85-degree day, for example, the temperature inside a vehicle - with the windows slightly opened - will reach 102 degrees in 10 minutes, according to the Western Arizona Humane Society.

"A 105-degree day has produced a 215-degree temperature inside a parked car.

A dog's normal body temperature is 101.5 to 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit.

"A dog can withstand a body temperature of 107 to 108 degrees for only a short time before suffering irreparable brain damage - or even death," states the society.

A closed vehicle interferes with the dog's normal cooling process, that is, evaporation through panting.

If a dog is overcome by heat exhaustion, the society recommends cooling the animal with cold water and ice as an immediate first aid measure.

A veterinarian should then check the dog.