A First-Hand Look at Protecting Pets

By Megan Carpenter | mcarpenter@nexstar.tv

Published 06/02 2014 07:35PM

Updated 06/02 2014 11:00PM

BURLINGTON, Vt.- Burlington police officers issued 22 tickets last year for dogs left in hot cars.  This year, they have written out one since April.   

"I remember finding one dog that was in 115 degrees," says Burlington Police Officer David Murrish.  "I made the decision if the operator wasn't identified within three or four minutes, I was going to break the window."

Murrish did not find any dogs in distress during patrol Monday, but he can get up to four calls per day during the summer months.  Police say they have had 18 reports since April, which is nine more than last April.  

South Burlington Police Chief Trevor Whipple says his department has had at least one dozen calls so far this year for dogs left in hot cars.  They had more than two hundred last year. 

"We get calls almost daily on days like today when it's warm and the sun is out," says Whipple.

Through a city ordinance adopted last December, Burlington police officers do not have to wait a certain amount of time before removing a distressed dog from a car.  Tickets issued can range from $100 to $500.

"Our goal is to lower the distress the public feels when they see a dog in a hot car and were here just to safeguard the life of the dog," says Murrish.

Police say another goal is educating the public to leave pets at home, if there is a risk for the animal to overheat in the car.  They also exhaust all options, including locating the pet's owner before extracting it from the vehicle.

"The hope is that we don't get more people calling about animals in cars," says Whipple.  "What we want is fewer animals in cars."

Despite some extreme cases, Whipple and Murrish say the issue is not growing in frequency.

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