Dogs locked in hot cars: rising number of emergencies during heat wave

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- The Nebraska Humane Society reports they’ve been responding to a rising number of emergency calls of dogs locked in hot cars as the summer heat wave continues.

One metro dog owner wasn't happy when he saw WOWT 6 News waiting for him to return to the car where he left his dog -- locked inside with temperatures in the 90's.

“I was in there (the store) for ten minutes. I mean you guys ain't got nothing better to do?” the owner said. “Can't take the dog in the store. So ain't got a whole lot of options.”

When the weather gets hot, the Nebraska Humane Society wants anyone who finds a dog locked in a car to report it. So WOWT 6 News alerted authorities.

“Whenever it's over 75 degrees, we come out as an emergency to make sure the dog is okay,” said Nebraska Humane Society Officer Jeremy Waymire.

Since the dog wasn't suffering, the owner wasn't cited – but he did receive a stern warning.

Brett Masterson took a picture Sunday afternoon of another dog locked inside a sweltering minivan. He wanted to free the dog but didn't.

“A dog can't open the door. A dog can't turn on the AC,” said Masterson. “If I had broken the window I probably would have been cited with some sort of vandalism.”

Eight states have laws offering at least some protections to people who break into cars to free an at-risk animal. A similar bill introduced in the Nebraska unicameral last year failed.

Humane Society Officers are authorized to free dogs from hot cars and since pets can't call for help, Officer Jeremy Waymire is relying on the public to do the right thing.

“Give us a call and we will respond as fast as we can,” he said.

In those states where people can break into a car to free suffering pet, they first need to call authorities and report it – and then they have to leave a note for the owner. But since that’s illegal in Nebraska, the best thing you can do is call your local Humane Society right away.

If you need to report an emergency to the Humane Society / Animal control, call 402-444-7800, option 1.