WJTV News Channel 12 - Finding dogs locked in hot cars common for Raleigh officers

Finding dogs locked in hot cars common for Raleigh officers

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

With temperatures blazing outside, Raleigh Animal Control says it receives several calls every day with reports of dogs locked in hot cars.

This comes as the North Carolina House passed a bill Thursday allowing rescuers to take drastic measures to save the animal.

"This time of year, we get as little as three calls a day to five calls a day," said Erin Jenks, with Raleigh Animal Control.

Those calls are for dogs locked inside hot cars.

"Sometimes the dog is panting heavily, drooling and having trouble breathing," Jenks explained.

Jenks said in most cases, the dogs are not left in hot cars with malicious intent but simply an oversight. Jenks added that the proposed law would give rescuers the authority to break a window and could be a lifesaver for many animals.

For pet owners, breaking into a car by any reasonable means seems worth it to save an animal.

Many people don't realize how fast a dog can die in a car.

"If the animal is in distress, we need to get that animal out as quickly as possible because every second counts," Jenks said.

For 2-year-old Worthy, time ran out. He died of a heat stroke in a parking lot of Eyes, Ears, Nose and Paws in Carrboro. The director of the non-profit, Debra Cunningham, left Worthy in the car for two hours. Cunningham was subsequently charged with one count of misdemeanor animal cruelty.

Eyes, Ears, Nose and Paws trains and places service dogs.

Board chair Mary Justice called the loss an absolute tragedy and said the organization is now reviewing all of its policies.

Dog owner Shenandoah Hellman said she would "absolutely not" leave a dog in a car.

"Just like I wouldn't leave a child in the car, I wouldn't leave anything alive in the car, especially in the heat," Hellman said.

"We do not leave our animals. They are like our children. We love them."

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