KS woman left dog locked in hot car during Sedgwick County Zoo visit, sheriff says

Marian Vejcik/Dreamstime/TNS
·2 min read

A Kansas woman could face criminal charges for leaving her Boston terrier alone in a parked car at the Sedgwick County Zoo on Saturday — a day that saw triple digit heat.

Weather records indicate the outside temperature was around 91 degrees in Wichita when county staff rescued the pooch.

The car wasn’t running when the dog was found. It’s unclear whether its owner left any windows open, Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Lt. Benjamin Blick said.

She did leave a water bowl in the car, he said.

But, according to the Centers for Disease Control, leaving water or a window cracked isn’t enough even on a cooler day because the temperature inside of a car can rise to dangerous levels quickly, around 20 degrees Fahrenheit within the first 10 minutes.

Like humans, dogs can suffer heatstroke or die from being left in a car without air conditioning on a warm or hot day.

Blick said staff at the zoo, 5555 W. Zoo Blvd., notified the sheriff’s office that the dog was “locked in a vehicle in their parking lot” around 11 a.m. Saturday.

A deputy who responded to the zoo called the fire department to open it and free the terrier.

“Once the vehicle was open, the dog was placed in an air conditioned vehicle until county animal control took her to a local vet clinic to be treated for any heat related illnesses,” Blick said by email.

The dog’s owner, a 52-year-old woman from Ulysses, left the dog in the vehicle during her zoo visit, he said.

Authorities found and notified her about the dog being taken to the clinic, Blick said.

The dog remained in “specialty boarding” Monday afternoon and its health is “still being monitored,” he wrote.

The incident was listed on a weekend blotter from the sheriff’s office as an animal cruelty case.

Blick said Monday that a detective had been assigned to investigate it and findings would be presented to the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office for review, which could result in criminal charges.

Health and animal welfare organizations discourage leaving pets out in the heat, including in vehicles, and instead urge owners to take animals indoors, provide plenty of cool water and watch for signs of heatstroke such as heavy panting, fast pulse and an inability to calm down or get up.

So far this year, at least 29 dogs have died in the U.S. after being left in cars or outside during hot weather, according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. At least 176 animals have been rescued from conditions that were too hot, PETA’s website says.

Last year, at least 59 pets died and at least 145 were rescued, according to the organization.