Hot Car could be Death Sentence for Fido

Officer Encourages Public to Leave Dogs at Home

With hotter temperatures during the summer, Ordinance Officer Bob Larsen encourages pet owners to leave their dogs (and all furry friends, for that matter) at home when running errands.

With an inability to sweat like humans do, leaving a dog in a car even for “just a minute” can be a death sentence. Parking in the shade and rolling down windows are not enough to protect a dog.

“The problem with the car is people think that rolling windows down, all four of them, is adequate ventilation. It’s not,” said Larsen.

On a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can soar to between 100 and 120 degrees in just minutes, and on a 90-degree day, the interior temperature can reach as high as 160 degrees in less than 10 minutes. Animals can sustain brain damage or even die from heatstroke in just 15 minutes (PETA).

Though a Wisconsin State Statute enacted in 2015 allows entering a vehicle to render assistance to an animal, there are very specific requirements that must be met before a person can legally do so.

“They have to meet every criteria,” said Larsen. “And there are a lot.”

Additionally, Larsen reminds citizens that because of the size of Marshfield, officers are always only a short drive away.

“If they see a situation, they should call us,” said Larsen, adding that officers are on duty 24/7 ready to help. “There is no reason to enter the vehicle forcibly, in Marshfield anyway, because we are so close. Someone will get there.”

After receiving a call, officers will look for signs of dogs being in distress.

“One person’s definition of distress is maybe not one where the dog is permissible as distressed under the law,” said Larsen. “We are the animal’s voice. They can’t tell us so we are here to evaluate them. But we can’t go above and beyond the scope of the law.”

Larsen, and all the officers at the department, inspect each and every animal call.

“90% of the time there is not an issue with a dog in the car, however we will check out every one of them,” said Larsen. “We are not going to ignore them. Better safe than sorry. And if a dog is borderline, you are going to work like heck to get the dog out.”

Larsen, who has two pets of his own at home, is dedicated to doing whatever he can to help a dog (or any pet) in need.

“I will work with whoever the car owner is to come out and take care of the dog,” said Larsen. “If that doesn’t work, we’ll take the dog out after getting permission from the shift commander. If the dog is bad enough, I’ll take the dog out and start giving him water and get him into the air [conditioned ordinance] van and wait for the owner to come out.”

If officers cannot get in touch with the owner, the dog is taken to Marshfield Area Pet Shelter, with a note left for the owner about where the dog has been taken.

“They usually end up paying the impoundment fee and end up with a citation for inhumane treatment,” said Larsen.

If you see a dog left alone in a hot car, take down the car’s color, model, make, and license plate number and call Police Dispatch at 715-387-4394. Wait until officers arrive.

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