Dogs Spent '45 Minutes In Hot Car' Before Murrieta Police Freed Them

MURRIETA, CA—Two dogs were rescued from a hot truck Friday in the Murrieta Walmart parking lot, the Murrieta Police shared over social media. The owner was cited, according to police, but the cautionary tale remains that leaving dogs inside a hot vehicle is illegal.

It was mid-morning Friday when a shopper parking in the Walmart lot heard barking from a large black truck.

Temperatures in Murrieta were already creeping past 80 degrees, and the dogs appeared to be in distress. The concerned resident called the authorities, and quickly, the Walmart parking lot filled with police and animal rescue officers. Police confirmed the car’s temperature was upwards of 110 and climbing, a video released by the department showed.

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A local towing company was called in to open the truck’s doors. Officers handed the pups over to Animal Friends of the Valleys Animal Control officers, who got the dogs safely into a temperature-controlled animal rescue truck.

“A short time later, the vehicle owner returned to their vehicle, stating they were shopping for nearly 45 minutes,” they said.

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Animal Friends of the Valleys Animal Control issued the animal owners a citation for animal cruelty under California Penal Code 597.7, which states, ‘a person who maliciously and intentionally tortures, or wounds a living animal… is guilty of a crime,'” police said. “As summer temperatures return, we want to remind everyone that, if necessary, officers and animal control may smash your window in order to rescue an animal in distress.”

The dog’s rescue was a combined effort between the police, Black’s Towing, and Animal Friends of the Valley Animal Control officers.

According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, interior temperatures can reach as high as 160 degrees Fahrenheit in less than 10 minutes on a 90-degree day.

During Friday’s incident, police estimated the car had already reached temperatures over 110 degrees.

As the summer gets into full swing, and plenty more heat waves are sure to be on their way, here are five things to know about pets in hot vehicles and how you can potentially save their lives:

1) It only takes minutes.
According to PETA, dogs trapped inside of hot vehicles can succumb to heatstroke in just minutes. That’s even if the car isn’t parked in direct sunlight. Dogs don’t sweat like humans do, and can only cool themselves by panting.

2) Know the symptoms of heatstroke.
“If you see a dog showing any symptoms of heatstroke—including restlessness, heavy panting, vomiting, lethargy, and lack of appetite or coordination—get the animal into the shade immediately,” PETA says.

3) Get the pup water – but make sure it’s not ice-cold.
You can lower a symptomatic dog’s body temperature by providing the dog with water, applying a cold towel to the animal’s head and chest, or immersing the dog in tepid (not ice-cold) water. Then immediately call a veterinarian.

4) You have the ‘Right to Rescue’ in California.
California’s “Right to Rescue” law allows for citizens to rescue pets from hot vehicles. The law allows Californians to rescue pets left in cars if an animal seems to be in distress from the heat or lack of ventilation, including by breaking the vehicle’s window, without fear of prosecution or civil liability.

5) It’s essential to keep in mind that to receive legal immunity under the ‘Right to Rescue’ law, a person must comply with all of the following requirements (Info via Office of Assemblyman Marc Steinorth):

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During the incident Friday, residents tweeted over social media to ask questions of the department and share their thoughts about the police’s actions, especially about California’s “Good Samaritan Law.”

“It’s really disheartening and pisses me off that anyone thinks that’s okay,” one commenter said. “leave your pets at home. Or don’t have them.”

Another commenter, this one an Instacart shopper, weighed in.

“Thank you to whoever called to get MPD out there!!!!!! 45 minutes!!? TF is wrong with people!!!? I do Instacart and the amount of times I’ve seen this is stupid. And yes, I make sure to say something!”

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