Incident on campus causes concern for dogs left in vehicles

Bonnie Mulqueen

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(Photo by Rebekah Anderson)

By: Bonnie Mulqueen, Staff Reporter

A UNF student called UPD Feb. 16 to report a dog being locked inside a car with no ventilation or water for almost two hours in UNF parking garage 38.

Rebekah Anderson, a criminal justice senior, said she pulled into the garage at 4 p.m. next to a car that had a dog locked inside with all four windows up and no water or food inside the vehicle.

Anderson touched the hood of the car to see if it was hot, thinking the owner might have run inside quickly to grab a book, she said. She said the hood was cold, so she knew the car had been there for quite a while.

Anderson said she went downstairs and pressed one of the blue UPD emergency call buttons, and within 10 minutes, Officer Kathleen Lumpiesz arrived on the scene.

Anderson said it was pretty warm out, and even though the car was in the shade of the parking garage, it really bothered her because of all the carbon dioxide fumes and different gases in the garage.

Anderson has been an animal rights advocate for the past four years, she said. Anderson donates money to the Humane Society and also promotes awareness for pet adoption agencies, she said.

Anderson has a 3-year-old red Dachshund, named Lou.

Anderson said the dog appeared to be a male boxer anywhere from 50 to 75 pounds. She said he was panting, anxious and seemed very upset. Anderson said he appeared to have to use the restroom based on her observations of the dog’s lower region shaking.

“I was advised by Officer Lumpiesz that I would have had the authority to punch the window out if the car was sitting in direct sunlight,” Anderson said.

Anderson said Officer Lumpiesz told her the campus policy is no animals are allowed except service animals. The officer couldn’t issue a ticket or arrest the student because it is not a university law, only a policy.

UPD has to follow the university laws and policies just like the students, said Lt. Tammy Oliver.

There is a Florida Cruelty to Animals Statute, 828.12-828.13, Oliver said.

Anderson said the officer looked up the student’s emergency contact number from the license plate of the car. The officer retrieved the keys to crack the window for the dog by 5:30 p.m. Anderson said she waited until 6:15 p.m., and the owner still had not come back to the car.

“I have not seen any incident like this happen on campus before with all four windows up,” Anderson said.

The student was referred to Student Conduct.

Anderson said she would like to see this policy changed into a campus law so UPD will have jurisdiction to fine or arrest students who are negligent in the care of their pets on campus.

Anderson said the dog’s life is not the only one at risk, and students can also be in danger when a dog is on campus. There is no telling if an animal has had its shots or vaccinations, and even if a window is cracked, there is still a possibility the dog can get loose and attack a student, Anderson said.

Ahmad Abdulzahir, a UNF biology senior, said the temperature inside a car in warm weather can get up to 106 degrees Fahrenheit within 10 minutes. A dog’s body temperature can only withstand up to 106 degrees in body heat, Abdulzahir said.

Abdulhazir said if you leave a dog alone in a car for an hour, the temperature has the possibility to reach 160 degrees, and the dog can suffer impermeable brain damage or even die.

It is inhumane to leave a dog in a hot car with the windows rolled up, and the university should make a law to prevent it from happening in the future, Abdulzahir said.

Dr. Michael Dressel, a veterinarian at Chimney Lakes Animal Hospital, said leaving dogs alone in cars without any ventilation or water is dangerous because dogs and cats can suffer from heat stroke. Dogs more often than cats, and certain dog breeds in particular, are placed at a higher risk of irreversible damage or death.

Heat stroke happens when the animal’s body temperature reaches 106 degrees or higher and stays there. Once its body temperature reaches 110 degrees, it can be just minutes before it dies or suffers irreversible damage to organs, Dressel said.

Dressel said dog breeds with smushed-in faces are at increased risk of heat stroke because their air passages don’t dissipate heat as well as other breeds. Dogs don’t sweat, they can only cool their temperature down through panting and drooling, he said.

Heat stroke potential can increase rapidly in hot Florida weather while being trapped inside a car, as well as if the animal is moving around a lot inside, panting and becoming anxious, Dressel said.

Email Bonnie Mulqueen at [email protected]