PALM DESERT, CA – Riverside County Department of Animal Services officials are reminding residents to never leave animals unattended in vehicles after an overheated dog was rescued from a hot truck in Palm Desert.
On Tuesday, RCDAS reported that around 6 p.m. on June 1, it received a call about the dog left in a hot Chevy Colorado at The Shops at Palm Desert, 72-840 Highway 111.
The maximum temperature in Palm Desert that day was 102 degrees, according to the agency.
After an RCDAS officer arrived at the scene, a bystander smashed one of the truck’s windows to expedite the animal’s rescue, the agency reported.
“Bystanders told the officer that the dog, an 8-year-old Pomeranian mix, was left unattended for at least 45 minutes,” said RCDAS spokesman John Welsh.
The RCDAS officer checked the pooch’s temperature and found it was way too high – 104.9 degrees. The officer took the animal to VCA Valley Animal Medical Center & Emergency Hospital in Indio, where it was evaluated and treated for heat stroke, Welsh reported.
The RCDAS veterinarian, Dr. Luis Lizarraga said that a temperature of 106 degrees can be fatal or damage a dog’s brain enough that the injuries are irreversible.
“It’s very dangerous to leave pets in the car on high temperature days,” said Erin Gettis, director of the Animal Welfare Service. “Please do not leave your pets in the air conditioner at home or, if you are traveling with your pet, never in the car.”
The little dog’s life was saved after hospital staff administered fluids and ran blood tests.
A sheriff’s deputy, responding to the scene at The Shops at Palm Desert, arrested the dog’s owner on suspicion of leaving an animal in an unattended motor vehicle in conditions that endangered its health and welfare. The woman was released at the scene, according to Welsh, but her identity has not been released.
The woman could face jail time if convicted, although she was able to bring her dog home from the Coachella Valley Animal Campus in Thousand Palms on June 2 after paying the $1,033 vet bill at the VCA Hospital.
The woman admitted she was wrong and hopes to learn from her mistake, according to RCDAS.
It is legal for someone to smash a vehicle window to rescue a pet when the animal appears to be in imminent danger. California is one of a few states that allows Good Samaritans to rescue animals with impunity. California law, introduced in 2017, protects people from civil and criminal liability when a vehicle is damaged as a result of an animal rescue.