Queenie, a pit bull/Labrador mix, died in the back of a car in a vacant Sacramento parking lot earlier this month.
Reporting to a tip, an animal control officer checked on the dog on July 1 at 5:30pm. He reported that Queenie was alert, comfortable and not in immediate danger. He left a warning note on the car.
The next morning, officers checked on Queenie at 10 am and 12:30 pm. They said that she was not distressed and there was no reason to forcibly take her away from the car. They reported that the windows were cracked open and that there was a shade cover over the front window.
But when an officer returned to check on Queenie at 4:30 pm, the dog was dead. The city had reached a high of 93 degrees at 3:46 pm that afternoon. Animal control officers then left a note saying that they had removed the dog from the car.
Except the owner never called and didn’t even know that his dog had died — because he was in jail.
The man had been booked into jail on June 28 on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. He said he had asked a sheriff’s deputy to allow him to free the dog, but he said that the deputy ignored him. The Sheriff’s Department said they have no record of him asking about his dog.
From Sacramento Bee: (registration required)
The director of Sacramento County’s Department of Animal Care and Regulation said that because of this incident, officers will be more proactive and will be pulling animals sooner from cars.
A state law enacted last year makes it illegal to leave a companion animal unattended in a motor vehicle in conditions that endanger its health or well-being.
The 2006 law also gives peace and animal control officers the authority to remove an animal from a vehicle “if the animal’s safety appears to be in immediate danger” and after “a reasonable effort” to locate the driver.
Claerbout [the director] said officers still rely on their judgment before taking action. Given the situation and the shelter’s protocols, she stood by their decision not to remove the dog from the car.
She said animals won’t always show visible signs of distress — heavy panting or weakness — from a heat illness, and that it’s easy to second-guess the officers.
But Sally Barron, who has two dogs, said animal control and sheriff’s deputies both may have played a role in Queenie’s death.
“They should have pulled the dog out in the morning,” Barron said.
She said animal control should have acted more quickly and, assuming Gray [Queenie’s owner] told the Sheriff’s Department, deputies should have notified animal control.
“They let that dog die,” Barron said.