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P.O. Box 160
Trenton, NJ
Media Contact:
Mike Horan
Elyse Coffey
(609) 292-5203
Public Information:
(888) 486-3339
RELEASE: June 28, 2011

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MVC/ NJSPCA Urge Motorists to Be Responsible for Pets Left Behind in the Dog Days of Summer
Beach Parking Lot Patrols to Begin July 1

(SEASIDE HEIGHTS) – Three furry friends lent a helpful paw today to officials from the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC), the NJ Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NJSPCA) and the NJ Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) in reminding motorists of their responsibility not to leave animals behind to swelter in their parked cars.

“We have been urging motorists for some time to be responsible for the maintenance of their vehicles,” said MVC Chairman and Chief Administrator Raymond P. Martinez. “However, it’s just not enough to take care of what’s under your hood. A driver needs to take care of what’s in their car as well.”

Beginning July 1, the NJSPCA will begin its yearly patrols of parking lots in beach towns looking for animals left unattended in vehicles. Now in its sixth year, the Shore Patrol Operation is an agency wide initiative intended to educate the public about the dangers associated with leaving animals behind in cars during the summer’s heat.

“We want people to understand that if they do come to the Shore and leave an animal unattended in their vehicle, they will come back to the car to find a window broken, their animal removed and civil and criminal charges waiting for them at the police station,” said Col. Frank Rizzo, Superintendent of the NJSPCA Police. “You would be surprised how many people think that leaving a dog in a car with a cracked window on a 90 degree day is acceptable.”

“If dogs are supposed to be man’s best friends, then man should be more responsible for all of the friends in his car,” added Martinez.

Today’s event featured a demonstration of how quickly the inside of a car can heat up in the summer months through the use of digital temperature reading technology.

“Dogs, cats and other pets are more susceptible to heat stroke than people because they have fur coats and cannot sweat,” said Dr. Colin Campbell, DVM, Deputy State Public Health Veterinarian, NJ Department of Health and Senior Services. “The only way they can cool themselves is to pant or drink water. Pet owners should closely monitor their pets during hot weather for signs of heat stroke: excessive panting, dark red or purple gums and tongue, vomiting, and weakness. Pets suffering from heat stroke require immediate veterinary care."

The owners of animals that are left behind in hot cars can face criminal charges that carry up to 6 months in jail and/or $1,000 in fines.

The DHSS’ Office of Animal Welfare is dedicated to promoting and protecting the health, safety and welfare of pets in New Jersey. The NJSPCA and the Office of Animal Welfare promote responsible pet care and work to ensure that pets receive proper treatment in both homes and in licensed animal facilities throughout the state.

The NJSPCA has been committed to protecting the state’s animals from cruelty and neglect since 1868.