Mayor adopts zero tolerance policy against leaving dogs in hot cars



In an attempt to get people to stop leaving their dogs inside hot cars, a Massachusetts mayor has resorted to a last resort, 'zero-tolerance' policy.

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Mayor Paul Heroux, of Attleboro, is a dog owner. He said  leaving dogs in hot cars is "totally avoidable."

Heroux recently received a picture from a concerned resident, showing two dogs gasping for air inside a car parked at a Stop and Shop when temperatures rose above 90 degrees.

"It was extreme heat. It was over 100 degrees in the car," said Heroux.

An Animal Control officer was called and saved the dogs. The owner received a warning, but Heroux said that was the last one.

"No more warnings -- common sense should be a warning," said Heroux. "People should know better than to do this or not."

After this incident and another one at the city library, Heroux said he's had enough and informed police and Animal Control about his zero tolerance policy of no more warnings. He also said the first offense will carry a $150 fine.

"It's cruel to leave any animal or children in the car in the heat so I think it's great that he's buckling down, making people think twice," said Jeanne Quaglia, a dog owner.

This week, Kara Holmquist, the director of advocacy for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said the organization has received several calls for animals in hot cars.

"Sometimes, people think cracking the windows or putting the car in the shade will help but cars can heat up very quickly. Cars can heat up 10 to 20 degrees in 10 minutes and animals can't cool themselves off as we do so it's really dangerous," said Holmquist.

In 2016, legislators improved the law, allowing for people to take action if they spotted an animal trapped in a hot car.

First, they should call Animal Control or police and then make an attempt to find the owner. If the animal appears to be panting or staggering or looks disoriented, then they can take matters into their own hands.

"If they have a good faith (and) belief that the animal is (in danger), then they can enter the car and they need to do it in the least forceful means to get the animal into the shade until first responders arrive," said Holmquist.

Holmquist said she applauds the mayor of Attleboro's stance and hopes the awareness means the SPCA will see fewer cases in the future.

"We just really recommend that people leave their pets at home. They're more comfortable. It's safer," said Holmquist.