Dogs in Ashland found trapped in hot cars

APD arrests 28-year-old man for animal neglect

By Hannah Guzik
Ashland Daily Tidings
July 30, 2009
Sadie’s brown eyes had begun to glaze over and — except for her panting tongue — she had stopped moving in the hot car parked on East Main Street by about 3 p.m. on Wednesday. Her body draped over itself on the floor, where she was trying to find a sliver of shade between the front and back seats of the pickup truck.

Outside it was over 100 degrees.

Inside the navy blue car — where the large, mixed-breed dog had been for about an hour, without water — it was much hotter, even with the windows cracked.

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“It’s hotter than hell in that car,” said Kip Keeton, a community service officer with the Ashland Police Department, as the downtown substation called in a superior officer who was authorized to get the dog out of the car.

Just as police were preparing to break one of the truck’s windows, the owner showed up.

Portland resident Christopher Shaffer, 28, was arrested for animal neglect in the second degree, because he “knowingly and recklessly failed to provide minimum care for an animal in his care,” said Lt. Corey Falls with the Ashland Police Department.

Ashland police have encountered at least two other cases of dogs being left in cars this week, as a heat wave has swept over the city, Falls said.

About two hours after Shaffer was arrested, South Beach resident Susan Church, 55, was cited for two counts of animal neglect in the second degree, after she left her two dogs in a hot vehicle without water, according to the police report.

On Monday, officers encountered a similar situation, but were able to find the owner quickly, Falls said.

Shaffer’s dog appeared to be unharmed in Wednesday’s incident. Once freed, it lapped up water and rested on the sidewalk with Shaffer’s girlfriend.

A passerby had noticed the dog trapped inside the car shortly after 2 p.m. and alerted police at the substation, located steps away from where the car was parked.

After checking neighboring businesses and searching driving records to try to find the car’s owner, officers were gearing up to free the dog themselves.

Meanwhile, Shaffer and his girlfriend, who refused to give her name, were grabbing a bite to eat at Standing Stone Brewing Co., the girlfriend said. They had stopped in Ashland on their way back to Portland, after spending time camping near Mount Shasta, she said.

“Restaurants and places, they don’t let dogs in and we’ve been driving for hours and hours,” she said, as police talked to Shaffer in the substation.

The couple had asked restaurant workers if they could bring their dog in to eat, but dogs weren’t allowed, so they left Sadie in the car, she said.

“We feel bad, but we’re not bad people,” she said. “We just can’t bring her anywhere.”

Animals and children should never be left in hot cars, Falls said.

“You don’t want to leave any child, infant or anybody in a car for any reason,” he said. “It can get really hot, really fast.”

“It doesn’t take long for a dog sitting in a hundred degree weather to start getting some kind of heat exhaustion,” he said.

According to the Animal Protection Institute, a 2007 study by San Francisco State University found that temperatures inside a car with the windows cracked can rise almost 20 degrees in 10 minutes, 35 degrees in 30 minutes and as much as 50 degrees in one hour.

“Hundreds of beloved canine companions are unintentionally killed or injured each year by being left in hot cars, even with windows cracked and only for a short time,” the institute’s Web site states.

If people see an animal or child trapped inside a hot car, they should call the police immediately, especially during the summertime, Falls said.

“Those things heat up like a tin box,” he said. “I can tell you this: It’s too hot for any living animal or child to be in a car.”

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or [email protected].

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