‘Dogs can overheat in minutes’ in hot car: Police alert public after weekend incidents

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Conway K9 officer Gary Mahaffey gives viewers a look inside his police cruiser at all the tools officers use to do their jobs on a daily basis.

With unprecedented weather heating up Myrtle Beach in recent days, it’s important to make sure loved ones are taking precautions to stay safe.

While you’re at it, don’t forget about Fido.

Local authorities advise citizens to think of their pets while experiencing heat waves like this one.

“The best tip is to call 911 or our non-emergency number,” said Cpl. Thomas Vest with Myrtle Beach police, which issued two citations over the weekend to people who left their dogs in hot cars. “In severe weather like we are experiencing now, dogs can overheat in minutes if left in a hot car.”

Weekend incidents

In the first incident police went to 3000 S. Ocean Blvd. for an animal cruelty call, according to a police report. A witness showed police a vehicle that appeared to have been sitting there for some time that contained two crates with two dogs and no food or water inside them, the report states.

The smaller of the two dogs was barking, seemed alert and was not in distress, but the larger dog was panting heavily and not barking, according to the report. The windows of the vehicle were cracked, but the inside of the vehicle was warm and the humidity was making it muggy inside, the officer noted.

The officer removed the dogs from the vehicle, walked them and gave them water, which they “gulped down feverishly,” the report states. Police tracked down the owner, who said he was aware the hotel had a no-pet policy and believed the dogs would be fine staying in the car while he stayed in the establishment, according to the report.

Hotel management asked the man, 55-year-old Nathaniel Lee Gray, to leave and he obliged after police returned the dogs to him along with two counts of animal cruelty, the report states.

In the second incident, police went to Broadway at the Beach on Saturday morning for the report of a dog in a vehicle while temperatures were above 80 degrees, according to the report. A small female poodle had a wide-open mouth, was panting excessively and had a wet chin from slobbering, the report states.

An officer noted that the dog’s tongue was thick and dry and she was having a hard time keeping her balance and was losing the ability to control her muscles while staggering — signs of heat exhaustion, according to the report. The dog was very hot and was very thin, the report states.

The officer removed the dog from the vehicle and put her in his air-conditioned vehicle and the poodle’s condition seemed to be improve, according to the report. The officer took the dog to a shelter for safe keeping and treatment, the report states.

Dispatch notified the officer that the pet’s owner called in and the officer met with her, according to the report. The woman, later identified as 28-year-old Maleenah Christina Levine, did not seem to grasp the severity of the violation and offered up excuses, the officer noted.

When asked why the dog was so thin, Levine said it was because she had been sick and hadn’t eaten in two days, noting that the poodle was full of worms and she didn’t want to leave her in the care of another person, the report states.

The officer determined that returning the dog to Levine would not be a good idea, considering the poodle’s “concerning thinness” for a “1-year-old” and issued her a citation and court date, according to the report.

How to help

Vest sent The Sun News a flier the Myrtle Beach Police Department uses to bring awareness about the dangers associated with animals being left in hot cars. It reads “Dogs die in hot cars” and “Park your pet at home.”

The Humane Society of the Grand Strand advises those who experience abuse to report it.

“If you know of an animal that is being abused or neglected, call the number that corresponds with the district in which the animal may be: City of Myrtle Beach: 843-918-1382, Horry County: 843-248-1520, North Myrtle Beach: 843-280-5511,” its website reads.