Canine advocate reports dogs left in hot cars; police chief responds
Melissa Nichols-Henchen, Going to the Dogs Rescue
I am writing on behalf of “Going to the Dogs Rescue” of Perry. I have been made aware of some serious concerns over this past weekend of beautiful weather.
Unfortunately with warm weather and sun that we enjoy comes dangerous situations of the average dog owner leaving their pets in the car to “run in the store quickly” and many dogs are suffering as a result of the lack of education and enforcement of state law that prohibits this.
As you are fully aware, 353-d. Confinement of companion animals in vehicles: extreme temperatures, law provides you with the ability to not only remove the animal immediately, but you are supposed to be ticketing the owner for this violation in every case.
It takes only minutes for a pet left in a vehicle on a warm day to succumb to heatstroke and suffocation.
Most people don’t realize how hot it can get in a parked car on a warm day; however, on a 78 degree day, temperatures in a car parked in the shade can exceed 90 degrees — and hit a scorching 160 degrees if parked in the sun. Dogs can suffer within minutes from heat stroke, brain damage, and death which is animal cruelty.
Our goal is obviously to prevent such a horrific fate, by enforcing existing laws that protect dogs from those situations and allow an officer of the law to intervene.
I was made aware of a situation this past weekend where an officer of Geneseo Police Department was in the Walmart parking lot and refused to do anything about multiple dogs that were sitting in vehicles, stating there wasn’t anything they could do because it “wasn’t that hot” and the temperature was over 75 degrees and the pets had been in the vehicles for more than 20 minutes, meaning the dogs were sitting in 95 degree heat panting while an officer witnessed it.
This is rather upsetting, and needs to be addressed immediately with all staff to fully understand that this is an important matter whether it is a child or a pet.
My concern is being forwarded to the Livingston County Sheriffs office as well as Governor Cuomo to make a record of this lack of service being provided by our local police to ensure that in the future it will be handled more seriously and in the proper manner.
Thank you for your ongoing efforts to improve your services to protect and serve our community.
Response from Eric Osganian, Chief of Police, Geneseo Police Department
Thank you for your emails. I have forwarded your first email to our sergeant for review and follow up with the officer that handled the complaint at Wal-Mart.
Having rescued a dog myself and gone through the process (completing an application, background check, references being met, meeting with the dog’s owners), as well as having our own K9 on the police force; we take these calls seriously.
We have our own dog control officer, who normally handles our dog complaints. However, he does not work on weekends, so the police officers will handle these complaints. If the officer’s procedure was improper, then it will be addressed.
One of the reasons I have not placed these statistics on our annual report is that they are not part of the Part 1 and Part II crimes of the Uniform Crime Reports. Due to some demand for information on other calls we handle (open containers, loud noise) I have varied off that guideline and placed those statistics on the report.
Just because it is not on the annual report does not mean it is not important or doesn’t deserve attention. My goal with our annual report is to give information in a short concise format for our residents.
In addition, honestly, no one has ever asked about our animal calls/arrests. Most of our questions/concerns from our residents deal with underage drinking and crimes that may be attributed to that or traffic issues.
Regarding training, I do not remember seeing anything from New York State Humane Association recently. We have placed officers through a one day training on Agriculture and Markets in the past. I would welcome any information you would like to provide.
Our budget is rather limited, but depending on the month, I should be able to send at least one officer that could bring the information back to the rest of the department.
I think it would be best if it was done in cooperation with our District Attorney’s Office, since they are tasked with prosecuting our cases. This way we would be on the same page and they could offer information, as well running through several scenarios, since every police call is a little different.
There are also other dynamics that we could discuss, since we are only one component in the system. But any training we can receive would be beneficial.