HEAT'S ON TO PROTECT PETS: Leaving animal in car a crime
As the weather heats up, law enforcement officials are boosting efforts to educate the public about a new state law designed to protect animals from cruelty and neglect.
Police will issue citations - even make arrests if necessary - to enforce the law.
The statute, which went into effect in October, prohibits leaving animals in unattended vehicles - regardless of the temperature or time of day, Mike Duffey, a detective with the Pima County Sheriff's Department and a member of the Animal Cruelty Task Force of Southern Arizona, an interagency group created to raise awareness and prevent crimes against animals.
Tucson and Pima County prohibit tie-outs, meaning owners can be prosecuted for tethering dogs outside, he said.
The public is the best source of information on violations, said Kathleen Mayer a supervisor with the Pima County Attorney's Office and member of the task force.
Anyone spotting a dog or other animal in a parked vehicle is urged to call 911. Call the Pima Animal Control Center at 743-7550 if you see a dog tied to a rope or chain.
Calls are routed to Pima Animal Control and the enforcement agency responsible for the area where the infraction is taking place.
For example, University of Arizona police would respond on campus, the Pima County Sheriff's Department would respond to unincorporated areas, and municipal police would respond in towns and cities.
"We co-investigate with Pima Animal Control," Duffey said, noting that animal calls get a lower priority than ones where humans need help.
And in case law enforcement is unable to respond, firefighters are authorized to.
The law allows officials to use reasonable force to remove an animal from a dangerous situation. Any damage to a vehicle in such a case would be charged to the owner.
If a rescued animal needs medical care, the treatment and the cost of transporting the animal will be charged to the owner, Duffey said.
If an animal is found dead from neglect, the death will be investigated," he said. "That's when I get involved, if the animal has succumbed."
ANIMAL CRUELTY IS ILLEGAL
Leaving an animal unattended in a vehicle, regardless of temperature
Leaving an animal tethered outside (in Tucson or Pima County)
Source: Animal Cruelty Task Force of Southern Arizona
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