Lowcountry man facing animal cruelty charge after leaving dog in hot car in Pooler

Lowcountry man facing animal cruelty charge after leaving dog in hot car in Pooler

POOLER, Ga. (WTOC) - A South Carolina man is facing a cruelty to animal charge after leaving his dog in his vehicle in Pooler.

Police believe the dog was left in the hot car for more than 25 minutes.

This is something we talk about every year when summer rolls around, but in Southeast Georgia, we could have these talks to 10 or 11 months out of the year. Cars can get up to 100 degrees in just a few minutes. Pooler Fire says in the last year, they’ve responded to 24 children locked in cars, and 18 animals. That’s 42 calls.

About five years ago, Pooler Fire Chief Wade Simmons says there was a close call with a child locked inside a vehicle. At the time, firefighters were not initially being dispatched to these calls.

“We’re delaying critical time. We have the tools and the equipment to get into these vehicles. Why are we not being dispatched initially? So, we changed the policy within the City of Pooler in how we handle things. The fire department is also dispatched with the police department on children and pets locked inside vehicles.”

The police report from this particular incident says that on Sunday, the owner left his dog in the car with the window barely cracked outside of Moe’s.

Hearing stories like this one hit close to home for some pet owners like Shelby Thomas.

“As a pet owner, if I ever did that, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself,” Thomas said.

Pooler Fire says the dashboard of the car was a whopping 158 degrees. They used a thermal imaging camera to determine the temperature - an easy find in any firefighter’s tool kit.

“If we are going through a burning house, you can see where the fire is rolling over the ceiling in the smoke, and you know that it is 600 or 700 degrees above your head,” Chief Simmons said.

Many departments are using the devices to track and document hot temperatures to prosecute for animal cruelty. The numbers also help doctors figure out just how serious the injuries could be. Chief Simmons says it’s not unusual for him to hear people say they just didn’t know how quickly their cars can heat up.

“You know, ‘oh my goodness, it was 20 minutes! My vehicle is already 130 degrees?’ Absolutely, Simmons said.

Chief Simmons says their goal is to save lives - of both people and pets.

“We have the dogs for a reason. They are our companions. If that were to ever happen - if they were to die or overheat, it would just break my heart,” Thomas said.

It was a Good Samaritan who called 911 and waited by the vehicle Sunday until help arrived. The man is facing a cruelty to animal charge, which is a misdemeanor in Georgia.

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