MERIDEN — A Meriden man faces animal cruelty charges after police say he left his dog locked in a car for over an hour while the temperature inside the car climbed to 108 degrees.
Meriden Animal Hospital Veterinarian Amy Anderson said if a dog’s body temperature gets too high they will begin to pant, become recumbent and can start seizing. If the animal is not treated in time it can suffer brain damage and even die.
Genaro Joseph Flores, 41, of 78 Kensington Heights, was arrested Monday and charged with animal cruelty, according to police.
Sgt. Darrin McKay, police spokesman, said the incident occurred in the parking lot of 533 South Broad St. A witness saw a German Sheppard locked in the car with the windows cracked for at least an hour, McKay said. When an animal control officer approached the car, he noticed that the animal was distressed.
The officer entered the car and the animal was taken to the pound, according to McKay. A temperature check of the car’s interior showed it was 108 degrees.
Flores admitted to leaving the animal in the car to go to the gym and run errands, McKay said. He was arrested and released on a promise to appear in court.
Yalesville Veterinarian Frank Kostolitz said that once the temperature of the animal gets too high “you have essentially a domino effect set it,” and once organ systems start to fail, “stopping it is a problem.”
Last year Kostoliz had an animal admitted to his clinic die as a result from being left in a car.
“It’s not so much an issue of how long, it’s an issue of what the temperature is and the humidity in the air,” said Kostolitz.
McKay said it is not uncommon for vehicle temperatures to rise to over 130 degrees in the summer.
“It’s not worth the risk,” said Anderson, “even in 5 minutes the temperature can get up too high.”
The dogs most at risk are small, young dogs and older dogs that already have health problems especially with breathing or circulation, according to Anderson.
Anderson recommended dog owners leave their dogs at home when going places where dogs are not allowed. If a dog must be left in the car, Anderson said owners should leave the air conditioning on.
According to McKay, the dog suffered no lasting damage as a result of the incident, was returned to Flores and is doing well.
Kostoliz wanted dog owners to know, “just don’t leave your pet in a car period.”