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Dog left in closed car dies of injury

SUNDAY, JUNE 28, 2009

Owner jailed, held on cruelty charge

A 1-year-old black Labrador retriever pulled Friday from a car with no windows open at the Spokane Valley Mall has died.

Charles M. Eschenbacher, 31, the dog’s owner, was booked into Spokane County Jail on Friday, charged with felony animal cruelty. He is being held in lieu of $5,000 bail and also has been charged with a misdemeanor related to confining or transporting an animal unsafely.

“This dog died a horrible death,” said Nancy Hill, director of Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service. “It doesn’t have to be that hot. When the sun is striking a vehicle, the air temperature doesn’t have to be that hot.”

Hill said the temperature was 75 degrees on Friday afternoon when the dog was found confined in the car in the parking lot at Spokane Valley Mall. His owner had gone inside to see a movie, SCRAPS said in a news release.

An officer with SCRAPS responded after other shoppers saw the dog in the car with steamed up windows. The officer cut open the car’s convertible top to rescue the animal and rushed the dog to emergency veterinary care.

Hill said cracking the windows can help because air can flow through the car. However, she said, some temperatures are too hot for animals to be confined in cars at all. She recalled a situation in which a dog died after being in a car when the outside temperature was 65 degrees.

“It’s a tragedy and a crime when this happens,” she said. “People may think they mean well taking their pet with them as they shop, or run errands, but warm weather can turn a car into a deathtrap quickly,” Hill said.

Anyone who sees an animal left in a vehicle should call SCRAPS at (509) 477-2532 or SpokAnimal at (509) 534-8133 immediately.


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