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Keep pets safe in hot weather

Police warn of fines for weather-related animal abuse

Temperatures in the Hillsboro area were projected to be in the high 80s and low 90s all week, with a chance of intermittent rain here and there. But as the heat took hold, animal experts warned the high temps impact pets as much as humans.

According to Deborah Wood, who manages Washington County Animal Services as well as the Hillsboro-based Bonnie L. Hays Small Animal Shelter, animal services officers are averaging about three or four calls a day to help an animal trapped in a hot car.

“We have not responded to any calls in which an animal required hospitalization this year, but there may well have been animals for which we did not receive calls that needed that help,” Wood said. “We have had animals in the past that needed veterinary treatment for heat problems.”

Wood added that dogs are impacted by the heat more than cats are.

“Dogs typically have more problems than cats, but people sometimes forget that cats definitely can have problems. If a cat is left in a hot car or other hot place, it can succumb to heat stroke,” she said.

Law enforcement officers take animal abuse seriously, and there are penalties for those who expose their pets to danger from the heat. Lt. Mike Rouches, spokesman for the Hillsboro Police Department, said the department is reminding people not to leave pets in the car in hot weather.

“When the temperature outside reaches even 75 degrees, the inside of the car can reach 120 degrees, depending on sun exposure,” Rouches explained. “A person could be guilty of animal neglect under Oregon law as a felony or misdemeanor depending on severity if they left an animal in the car. We also have a municipal code that carries a $500 fine for leaving an animal in a vehicle.”

Wood pointed out that the Bonnie L. Hays facility serves the entire county. If a resident is having an emergency concerning a pet, the agency will respond to calls from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The number is 503-846-7041.

“If this occurs at a time we are not here, they should call their local police department,” Wood added. 

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