TULAROSA, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico woman was outraged after finding a dog in a truck, with its owner nowhere in sight. The windows were down, but the owner was still cited.
“You feel helpless because you can’t always do anything about it,” said Sunny Aris.
Aris says she sees it all the time. Wednesday afternoon was no different after she found a dog left in a truck in a Tularosa grocery store parking lot while the owner was inside shopping.
“I’m looking at this very expensive truck, and look who is inside. It’s 90 degrees,” you can hear Aris saying in a Facebook live video.
Aris runs a local no-kill rescue group. She immediately called police, but to her disappointment, they didn’t do anything about it.
“The officer came and said, ‘Oh, well, the window is open. That’s not against the law.’ I said, ‘Yes sir, it is.’ He said, ‘No, it’s not,’ and he kind of waved me away,” said Aris.
However, after some further research, the officer came back and did charge the owner with animal cruelty.
“He compared things he found online and learned about the dangers of the interior temperature of the car, even with the windows down,” said Tularosa Police Chief Chuck Woods.
Chief Woods says under city law, the owner needs to provide adequate and appropriate conditions for the animal, and it’s ultimately up to the responding officer to enforce the law on a case-by-case basis.
In this case, the officer ultimately determined the animal was in danger.
“I want my officers to do the job right. If they find there are other factors to consider and new information comes to light, they have a responsibility to go back and make it right,” said Wood.
Meanwhile, Aris says she hopes this incident raises awareness about the dangers of leaving pets in hot cars.
“If the outside is 100 degrees, the inside of your car can be 140 degrees. If you wouldn’t feel comfortable sitting in your car without air conditioning, without wearing a fur coat, then don’t subject your dog to sitting in the car,” said Aris.
The woman claims the officer also later called and apologized for the confusion.