Faced with mounting numbers of animals being endangered by heat stroke, Warwick Police have posted tips and reminders on their website and plan to have a table at the National Night Out in Oakland Beach Aug. 6 to educate people about the danger of leaving dogs, or any other pets, in cars on hot days. According to reports, a dog left in a car at the Cranston Walmart died because of the heat.
“We had six calls about it Tuesday night alone,” said Patrol Captain Joseph Coffey of the Warwick Police. “We are very aware of the problem, and our officers are very sensitive to it as well. They are trained to deal with it and we have animal control officers who deal with it.”
Coffey said he is somewhat troubled about people taking matters into their own hands when they encounter an instance of it and would rather they call police immediately.
“Our officers are instructed to treat those calls as priorities,” said Coffey, “not because they want to give people tickets or arrest them but because they care about animals, too.”
He acknowledges that some people get impatient when they see dogs suffering, but immediately calling the police will get the animals the first-aid they may need a lot faster than taking action on your own.
When told of a report of a West Warwick woman taking a dog out of a car left in the parking lot of the Stop & Shop on Quaker Lane yesterday, Coffey said legal issues aside, an irate owner or an unknown animal can pose significant danger to good Samaritans.
“It’s understandable that you want to help the dog, but if you don’t know the dog or its personality, you can be setting up an even bigger problem by letting a heat-stressed dog loose on the street,” he said. “It’s always better to call the police.”
Coffey said his community police division is drawing up guidelines for keeping your animals safe with the cooperation of the RISPCA and will post them on their website. In the meantime, he suggests Googling “My dog is cool” for immediate advice.
Then Coffey brought up another equally important problem with animals and heat and said people should report overheated animals whenever they see them.
“You know, dogs in overheated cars are the most obvious situation, but people must understand that it is just as important at home,” he said. “People don’t always realize that leaving your dog in a yard, with no water and no shade, is just as dangerous. And even in a shady place with water, it’s wise to make sure the animals are comfortable, even if you have to take them inside. Even temperatures in the shade can be too much.”