GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A 55-year-old woman is facing a felony animal mistreatment charge after she allegedly left a dog locked inside a hot vehicle in the Lambeau Field parking lot.
"There is light being shed on this problem, and it's always mind-boggling to me that it continues to happen. It's just pretty much common sense," said Dr. Becky Krull, co-owner of Green Bay and Allouez Animal Hospital.
Green Bay Police were called to the parking lot outside the Packers Pro Shop at about 12:36 p.m. Thursday.
Police say the golden retriever had been locked in a hot vehicle for about three hours. The windows were rolled up. The dog had no water.
"It doesn't take long for a day where it's 85- or 90-degrees outside with high humidity and heat indexes--that car raises up within in minutes into the hundreds, 120, 115 range pretty darn quick," said Krull.
"Well it really is tragic. In this particular case, about 12:40 p.m. yesterday, we received a 911 call from a passerby who noticed a dog that appeared to be lifeless inside of a locked, enclosed vehicle," says Green Bay Police Chief Andrew Smith
"By the time the officers arrived, the caretaker, the owner of the animal was at the scene already obviously very distraught," says Chief Smith. "Our officers did an examination of the animal, determined that it was dead, and that animal was transported to a local animal hospital for a quick examination."
"That news story was pretty infuriating yesterday, because it's completely preventable," said Krull.
A 55-year-old Lawrence woman is facing a felony charge of mistreatment of animals causing death.
"The pet owner is not in custody at this time. We have some investigation that we have to do before we file those charges. That includes a necropsy on the animal. That includes gathering any video evidence, further interviews by our detectives," says Chief Smith. "So, we're building that case right now. We've already met with the District Attorney's Office. They are on board with filing charges. We just want to make sure we have a really good case before filing those charges."
Police are also investigating why the woman left the dog in the car without checking on it.
"We're not exactly sure what that owner was doing for those three hours and why they didn't at least come and check on the animal, but we believe that dog was not checked and uncared for that three hour period of time," says Chief Smith.
Police are not releasing the woman's name until formal charges are filed by the district attorney's office.
"It's a very serious crime. The police department is taking it very seriously. I know the District Attorney's office is taking it very seriously," says Chief Smith. "This is a felony crime. This is neglect of an animal resulting in death which is a felony, and I expect those felony charges to be filed."
Police urge dog owners to leave their animals at home rather than keeping them in a vehicle for an extended period of time. The ASPCA says temperatures inside a vehicle can reach up to 20 degrees warmer than the temperature outside.
The ASPCA says on an 85 degree day, it takes 10 minutes for the inside of a car to reach 102 degrees. It takes just 30 minutes for a car to reach 120 degrees.
Temperatures hovered around 80 degrees in Green Bay Thursday afternoon.
Krull has a message for pet owners thinking about leaving their pets in the car this time of year: "My number one advice is don't. Leave them home. There's really not too many examples that you can give me that says your pet has to go with you."
She says if it is an absolute necessity to bring them along, there are simple steps you can take to prevent another tragedy like this from happening.
"If you absolutely are leaving your dog or cat in the car, the car is on, air conditioning is on, a note is left in the car so people realize what's happening. Leave a note with what you're doing, where you are with your cell phone number, and then check back often," said Krull.
Wisconsin has a state law that protects citizens from breaking a window to rescue an animal or person. Chief Smith urges the community to call police whenever they see an animal in distress.
"The best thing to do is call us immediately. Our officers were there within a few minutes, and we were able to take care of the situation once we were there," says Chief Smith. "But we want to be called right away. If you see an animal in the car with the windows up in any kind of distress, even if it doesn't appear to be in distress at the time, call 911. We'll get our officers out there as quick as possible. If necessary, we'll break a window to rescue this animal, because we don't want this happening in Green Bay anymore."
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