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Brighton police rescue dog from hot car, owner issued summons for animal neglect


BRIGHTON, Colo. — Brighton police recently rescued a dog trapped in a hot car outside a JCPenney and the owner was issued a summons for animal neglect.

The Brighton Police Department said when its officers arrived, the car was locked. The dog had been inside for more than 20 minutes.

Brighton police rescue dog from hot car, owner issued summons for animal neglect

An officer broke the window and unlocked the car doors, according to bodycam footage.

While it was 84 degrees outside at the time, the temperature inside the car was almost 30 degrees hotter.

113 degrees dog in car in brighton_Brighton Police Department

Brighton Police Department

The dog’s owner, who has not been identified, was issued a summons for animal neglect. The owner understood why the window was broken and thanked officers for “this teaching moment,” the department said.

“How long is it OK to leave your pet in the car during the summer months? The answer is zero minutes. Yep, that’s right. Even one minute is 60 seconds too long,” the police department said.

dog rescued hot car_Brighton Police Department

Brighton Police Department

The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that if the outside temperature is 95 degrees, it only takes 10 minutes for temperatures inside a car to reach 114 degrees. After one hour, temperatures would reach the 138-degree mark. The American Kennel Club said a parked vehicle with a slightly opened window heats up at nearly the same rate as a vehicle with windows rolled up.

In 2017, a state law dubbed the Good Samaritan bill sailed through the state legislature, becoming official in August of that year. Any person who breaks into a vehicle to rescue an at-risk person or animal, as prescribed by the law’s parameters, won’t be subject to any penalties. Before the law, people risked charges of criminal mischief, criminal trespass or criminal tampering if they broke a car window to help people or animals escape the heat. Click here to learn more about the Good Samaritan law.

That summer, there were multiple instances involving dogs left in hot cars.

In the years since, authorities have continued to respond to similar incidents. In August 2019, a dog died after its owners left it in a car and went out to eat in Westminster. Despite parking in the shade, putting the windows halfway down and leaving water in a bowl, the dog was unresponsive when they returned to the car. The high that day was 97 degrees. The couple was served a summons for animal cruelty.

That same month, a dog was rescued from a 117-degree car at a Walmart in Lakeside. The dog’s owner was arrested after a brief pursuit in the parking lot. The dog was taken to a Wheat Ridge vet clinic and made a full recovery. It was adopted out to new owners.

Most recently, a dog died in early July 2023 after its owner left it inside a vehicle for several hours at the Foothills Golf Course. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said a bystander saw the dog in distress and broke a window to attempt to rescue the dog, but by that point, it was too late. The owner was issued a summons for animal cruelty.


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