Police, Seattle Animal Shelter get over 60 calls just this month about pets left in hot cars

SEATTLE -- As the temperatures climb this week, so are the number of calls police and the animal shelter are getting about pets left in hot cars.

So far this year they’ve responded to more than 227 calls, 63 just in the month of July and issued 16 citations.

"It's 114 degrees in the shade," said Don Baxter with the Seattle Animal Shelter.

"We are responding to multiple hot dogs in a car every single day," said Baxter.

He says people don't often realize on a hot day the inside of the car can heat up quickly. He measured 148 degrees on the dashboard of a vehicle that had been sitting out in the sun.

"Typically we have somebody who leaves the windows down, their pet might be inside, but as you can see we put a thermometer inside and it’s 120 degrees inside the vehicle and that’s in a shady part of the vehicle where the sun isn’t directly on there," said Baxter.

He says leaving pets in the car for two minutes can be the difference between life and death.

"Brachycephalic dogs, boxers, pugs, dogs with short noses, animals that might be obese or overweight and geriatric dogs may suffer more than other dogs," said Baxter.

As Q13 News was filming the interview with Baxter, a car pulled up in the exact spot where Baxter took that 114-degree temperature read inside a vehicle just a few minutes earlier.

The owner left her small dog in the car with the windows rolled up and left. She returned several minutes later and when asked about why she left the dog in the car, the woman responded that the air conditioner was on prior to parking and the dog was fine. The dog owner declined an interview.

"It's been maybe five minutes," she said about how long she though she left the car in the car.

"I have a hard time of answering the question of why," said Baxter.

He says it's never a good idea to leave any pet in a car for any length of time.

In the city of Seattle, pet owners can be given a $257 citation for leaving a pet in a hot car. If the animal dies, owners could be charged with a felony for animal cruelty.

Under recent state law, officers who break windows to rescue pets are not responsible for the damage to the vehicle.