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Concerns raised over pets, hot cars in Nye County, Pahrump

With triple-digit temperatures fast approaching, Nye County Animal Control officials want to send a strong message to area pet owners.

“If you plan on running errands this summer, please leave your pets at home.”

That message was relayed to a woman in the parking lot of Walmart last Wednesday afternoon by Animal Control Officer Levi Gregory.

Gregory responded to the parking lot after a person noticed a small dog locked inside of a Dodge pickup truck and called 911.

“We were dispatched for a dog locked in a vehicle in the Walmart parking lot,” Gregory said. “Thank goodness there is a small breeze and it’s slightly overcast today. The inside temperature was only 95 degrees, so it was not to the point where the dog was in distress, thus not a detriment to the dog.”

Gregory said the “temperature danger zone” occurs when a vehicle’s interior temperature is between 110 and 115 degrees.

“At that point, dogs start losing cells in their brains and livers, which is obviously life-threatening,” he advised. “If the interior temperature is between 110 and 115 degrees, the owner would be given a citation and more than likely the dog would be coming with us.”

Each summer in Pahrump, animal control officers are routinely dispatched to check the welfare of dogs left locked inside vehicles, while their owners run shopping errands.

One story, ‘zero tolerance’

Last June, Nye County sheriff’s deputies, along with animal control, responded to Walmart after a Pahrump woman decided to go shopping while leaving a Chihuahua puppy inside her white Ford Expedition SUV.

Though the windows were partially down, the interior temperature of the SUV exceeded 120 degrees.

A passerby was alerted to the vehicle by the dog’s incessant barking.

“It caught my attention real fast,” said the woman, who wanted to remain anonymous. “I walked over to the barking sounds and saw a white Ford with the windows partially rolled down and a little black dog inside barking and panting profusely. I went inside Walmart and asked them to somehow page the owner of the Expedition.”

The woman said she was told to call 911, which she did.

Shortly thereafter, Animal Control Officer Susan Ryhal arrived on scene.

“When I arrived here the officers had taken a temperature reading of 125 degrees inside the vehicle,” she said. “Witnesses along with the deputy and myself saw the animal was clearly in distress. We were able to extricate the animal from the vehicle and he was taken to the vet to get assessed.”

As a result, the dog’s owner was fined $647.

“We have zero tolerance for this kind of action,” Ryhal said at the time. “We will be citing people if we find their animals are left in inhumane conditions, especially a hot car parked in the parking lot, exposed to the midday sun. It’s a $647 fine.”

Sheriff Sharon Wehrly meanwhile, bemoaned the certainty that similar incidents will likely continue to occur throughout the summer months.

“It’s unfortunate because we see this happen every summer and sadly, it’s going to continue to happen,” she said in previous story. “People need to understand that putting the windows down just doesn’t help because it’s just too hot outside.”

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com

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