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Hadley Police remove dog from sweltering vehicle in store parking lot, fine Greenfield man



The man, who police declined to identify, was issued a $100 civil fine for the incident under the town’s bylaw on the humane treatment and care of animals.

Hadley Patrolman Mitchell Kuc responded to the parking lot of Home Depot on Route 9 about 6:30 p.m. Monday for a report of a dog panting in a vehicle. The discovery of the mixed-breed dog had earlier been brought to the attention of the store’s management, according to police. The outdoor temperature that day reached the mid-80s.

“Several customers complained,” Kuc said.

Using an infrared thermometer, Kuc determined the outside surface of the vehicle and ground to be around 100 degrees and, finding the vehicle doors unlocked, recorded the inside temperature of the vehicle at 100 degrees. The dog was OK, Kuc said, but he brought the animal to an air-conditioned police cruiser to await the owner’s return.

“The temperature was definitely a factor, and all of the windows left completely up was an aggravating factor,” Kuc said of the incident.

Kuc’s decision to remove the dog from the vehicle is supported by a state Supreme Court decision in April that permits police and animal control officers to rescue animals in an emergency aid situation from someone’s private property without a search warrant. The same exemption exists for people.

The Supreme Court case involved an animal control officer who in January 2011 removed two dead dogs and another emaciated one all chained to a fence in a yard in Lynn. The dog’s owner, Heather M. Duncan, was prosecuted for three counts of animal cruelty.

In appropriate circumstances, the court ruled, “animals, like humans, should be afforded the protection of the emergency aid exception.”

Hadley police have issued civil citations and fined dog owners in previous years for leaving their pets in hot vehicles — though not every case merits a citation. The town’s bylaw states that it is a violation to leave “any domesticated animal unattended in a vehicle when a reasonable person would believe that the temperature could cause serious injury or death to the animal.”

The Home Depot call was one of five similar calls police received during a 24-hour span starting on Sunday.

“The word is getting out there about these types of instances and we’re getting more calls about it,” said Kuc, who also serves at the town’s animal control officer. “While we do appreciate the calls, there definitely needs to be more than just a dog being in a car.”

Kuc said Hadley Police take the town’s bylaw to protect animals seriously and will continue to cite those who endanger animals. More serious cases could lead to criminal charges, he said.

With the warm weather here, police caution dog owners to leave their pets at home if there is a chance they will be left in a vehicle for any long periods. They also ask the public to take into the consideration the behavior of the dogs and the circumstances before calling the police. They also discourage people from confronting owners who leave their dogs in hot vehicles.

“We don’t want to escalate the situation any more than it already is,” Kuc said. “People do get upset with these types of calls.”

Dan Crowley can be reached at dcrowley@gazettenet.com.

Legacy Comments6

Just because a dog is in a car doesn't mean they are in trouble. Check the situation out first. Are the windows open? is the dog stressing?

Sorry for the confusion, we do want people to call. Callers need to have a specific concern though, such as "the dog is panting" "the dog is trying to get out of the car" "in distress", etc. We have already received calls about dogs in cars and it turns out the A/C is on. The call needs to be "there is a dog in a car that is_________". A dog in a car in and of itself is not a violation. Thank you.

Kuc stated: “While we do appreciate the calls, there definitely needs to be more than just a dog being in a car.” This sounds as if they don't want the calls? A little confusing.

We want people to call if the dog is in danger. A dog sitting in the car with the A/C on is clearly not in danger (already had those calls this year). Callers need to be calling about a specific concern about the dog; "its panting" "its trying to get out of the car", etc. Thank you and sorry for the confusion.

It means not all dogs are in trouble. Just because there in a car doesn't mean there is wrong doing. Check to see if the windows are down and if the dog is stressed. Just because some leaves a dog for a few minutes doesn't mean there is a problem. Not everyone who has a dog in the car is doing anything wrong. You can tell if it is a serious situation.

If it's a day in 50deg the windows are open that would not merit calling police. A day in the 70deg windows closed that would merit a call if the animal is panting and vehicle is in the sun that would merit a call A cool day window open no that doesn't merit a call Use some common sence

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