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At Issue: Leaving dogs in hot cars - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

At Issue: Leaving dogs in hot cars

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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Police officers respond to hundreds of calls each year about dogs left in hot cars. Under Vermont law, if a dog is in distress, they can break a window to rescue them.

One police chief is on a mission to protect pets even before they get into a dangerous spot.

"I grew up with dogs, I've had dogs almost every day of my life and there's just something about that bond between human and animal," says Chief Trevor Whipple.

South Burlington Police Chief Trevor Whipple thinks of his dogs Bear and Noah as part of the family.

"They're a stress relief for me, I get much enjoyment of having them in my life, and really want to make sure that's part of my work in the law enforcement arena to make sure they are well protected, well cared for and kept safe," he says.

He's on a mission, heading into the summer, to make sure that dogs don't get left in hot cars.

"We get literally hundreds of calls in the course of a year," he says.

Because South Burlington is a retail hub for the state, he says, it happens more often here. He says it is important to know:

1. Dogs can only cool off by panting and through the pads in their feet.

2. According to a Stanford University study, when it is 72 degrees outside, a car's temperature inside climbed to 116 degrees within one hour.

3. A dog's normal body temperature is between 101 to 102.5 degrees; in a matter of minutes in a hot car, they can have nerve damage, heart problems, liver damage, brain damage or even die.

4.And finally, studies show that cracking the windows has little effect on a vehicle's internal temperature.

Animal advocates and South Burlington's animal control officer spent time at the mall this week educating people about the dangers of leaving dogs in hot cars. They let folks test out one of their tools of the trade, which takes the temp of the inside of a car from the outside. If it's 75 degrees outside, the inside of a car can heat up to 118 deegrees!

Chief Whipple says Vermont law clearly outlines that it is illegal to leave a dog in a hot car.

"If we're called to a situation where we see a dog in a car and it's in distress because of the heat in the car then we have legal authority by statute to make entry into that vehicle with whatever force necessary. And the law provides that we're allowed to break a window and it provides exemption to us for any liability for doing so if it's needed to rescue a dog," he says.

IF YOU SEE A DOG LOCKED IN A HOT CAR:

-Get the License plate number, color, make and model of car

-Go inside store and have owner paged

- Call Police

- Stay with vehicle until help arrives

If you are caught leaving a dog in a hot car the first time, you can be fined up to $500.

And this winter, they had a case of a dog left in a car in below freezing temps and a South Burlington officer broke in to rescue the dog. The owner fought the ticket and lost.

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