LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KDBC) — On an 81-degree day, it takes only half an hour for the inside of the car to reach 114 degrees. That heat, is what killed a blue heeler mix dog who suffered from heat exposure for two hours, Doña Ana County Animal Control Officers said. The owner is facing felony animal cruelty charges.
According to a report, Justin Ortiz, 26, said he left three dogs, a mother and her two pups, in his car while he took his kids to school and ran some errands. He explained his dogs had been running away, so he put them in the car to keep them from fleeing.
A neighbor saw the animals inside the car and called 911. When officers arrived, it was 81 degrees outside. The three were rescued from the car, however the mother suffered seizures, as her temperature was at 105 degrees and died the following day. The puppies, who are still recovering, were found to be at 103 and 104 degrees, according to investigators.
"This is the time of year when we have to remind the public how deadly it can be to leave an animal unattended in a car," said Doña Ana County Sheriff's Investigator Robyn Gojkovich. "And the effects of heat exposure happen quickly, just as we saw with this dog. It's a tragic situation, but it's also 100 percent preventable."
According to Doña Ana County Sheriff's investigators, Ortiz had been cited earlier in May with various animal-related offenses, including failure to provide care and maintenance and failure to provide proof of vaccinations.