May 31, 2015
By Kimberly Redmond
‘Ceasar’, a golden retriever, looks out the window of the car of his owner, Mike Caggiano of Bloomfield, on Broad Street in Bloomfield.
With summer-like temperatures setting in across New Jersey, authorities would like to remind drivers that leaving animals in overheated cars could have dangerous consequences.
Recently, Rockaway Township police responded to a report filed by a concerned individual regarding a dog left in a car parked outside of Shop Rite on Route 46, with no water and the windows rolled up, on a warm day, police said.
The person contacted the police department after the car’s owner hadn’t returned after 20 minutes, police said.
When officers arrived, they tried to contact the vehicle’s owner, a 53-year-old Rockaway man, but were unsuccessful, police said.
About 15 minutes later, the man emerged from the supermarket to find officers at his car, who advised him “that it is unlawful and inhumane to leave a dog in a locked vehicle.”
The matter has been turned over to the township’s animal control officer, according to township police.
Even on a 72-degree day, temperatures inside of a car can surge to 116 degrees within 60 minutes and cracking the windows makes little difference, a Stanford University study shows.
Those temperatures can very quickly put an animal at risk of serious illness, such as heatstroke, or even death.
Older or overweight animals, or those with heart or lung diseases, are particularly vulnerable to suffering from health issues due to heat.
Under state statute, pet owners can be charged for leaving an animal “unattended in a vehicle under inhuman conditions adverse to the health and welfare of the living animal or creature.”
Those convicted of the disorderly persons offense are subject to a fine of no less than $250 and no more than $1,000. A person found guilty could also face up to six months of jail time, as well as community service.
“We understand that pets are members of our family – they offer companionship and unconditional love. But, leaving your pet in a car on a hot day, even for a short period of time, can have devastating effects,” Franklin Township Police Sgt. Phil Rizzo said.
Each summer, the department generally fields a few calls from individuals concerned about unattended animals in cars, which prompts officers to respond, Rizzo said.
“If it’s determined that the animal is in distress, we’ll contact the animal control officer to respond and make entry to the vehicle to provide assistance and care to the animal,” the sergeant said.
The bottom line, Rizzo said, “Show your pet the same love they show you and leave them home on hot days.”