Despite repeated entreaties from San Francisco Animal Care & Control, some pet guardians still choose to flout the city's laws against trapping dogs in hot cars. But one owner got the message Sunday, when police rescued a suffering pup from a stifling vehicle parked on an SF street.
SF ACC sends press releases with subject lines like "Don't Leave Pets in Hot Cars" any time SF experiences a warm snap, releases that news organizations like this one dutifully repeat. And yet, we've all seen cars with dogs left in them with windows "cracked," which on an overcast day might seem like no big deal — but on Sunday, not only was it sunny and warm, but with Bay to Breakers there were a lot of people walking past a vehicle parked on Fulton Street at Parsons Street, just steps from Stanyan where a black Lab was trapped.
According to San Francisco Police Department spokesperson Sergeant Michael Andraychak, calls starting coming into police at 1:06 p.m. Sunday on reports of a distressed Labrador Retriever in that car, where "windows were cracked open a bIt."
Officers with the Richmond Station arrived at the vehicle at 1:22, and by 1:24 the dog, who Andraychak says is named Thor, was freed.
"The car's interior was described as being hot," Andraychak says, and "The dog drank lots of water upon being let out of car."
"I got to meet Thor, he showed lots of love and was very friendly," Andraychak says.
Officers called Animal Care & Control to the scene, which seized the dog. When the dog's guardian returned to their car, they were cited, Andraychak says.
That's because their action was a violation of California Penal Code Section 597.7, which states that "No person shall leave or confine an animal in any unattended motor vehicle under conditions that endanger the health or well-being of an animal due to heat, cold, lack of adequate ventilation, or lack of food or water, or other circumstances that could reasonably be expected to cause suffering, disability, or death to the animal."
People found in violation of the law face fines as much as $500 per animal and a jail sentence as lengthy as six months.
"Even in mild weather, with windows partly open, a parked car can reach dangerous temperatures within 10 minutes - and heat up to 120 degrees within 30 minutes, causing heat exhaustion, heat stroke or even death to pets left inside," ACC spokesperson Deb Campbell says.
In addition, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, "cracking the windows [has] very little effect on the temperature rise inside the vehicle."
"Because dogs (and cats) cool themselves by panting, and by releasing heat through their paws, the hot air and upholstery in a parked vehicle makes it impossible for a pet to maintain a healthy and comfortable body temperature," Campbell says.
"During warm weather pets should be left at home, in a cool place, with plenty of water available."
If you see an animal left in a hot car, both Campbell and Andraychak urge you not to hesitate to call 911, or Animal Care & Control Emergency Dispatch at 415-554-9400.