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Dog dies tied to fence in heat, second dog struggling with heat sickness

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The summer continues to be unseasonably high throughout Washington State and animal advocates are out in force to ensure that animals do not succumb to heat sickness or heat-related death. KHQ News reported today that the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service (SCRAPS) responded to a case of animal cruelty when two pit bulls were seen tied to a fence without water or shade.

SCRAPS Animal Protection Officer Katie Kellig found one of the dogs had already died from suspected heat stroke. The second dog was exhibiting signs of heat-related distress. The dogs' owners were inside the home when SCRAPS arrived.

“The first dog had already begun showing signs of rigor mortis, which speeds up during heat,” stated Field Operations Manager Nicole Montano.

“It appears the animals were tied up the night before and looked at this morning, through a window, at about 7:00 am.” According to a report, the pit bulls' owner did not check on the dogs again until the animal protection officer arrived at the home.

During the investigation, the officer tried to obtain the dog's body temperature. The thermometer maxed out, only indicating "HI." The deceased dog is now at a veterinarian for a necropsy.

The owners of the dogs may be charged with Animal Cruelty in the First Degree, which is defined as:

(1) A person is guilty of animal cruelty in the first degree when, except as authorized in law, he or she intentionally:
(a) inflicts substantial pain on,
(b) causes physical injury to, or
(c) kills an animal by a means causing undue suffering, or forces a minor to inflict unnecessary pain, injury, or death on an animal.

(2) A person is guilty of animal cruelty in the first degree when, except as authorized by law, he or she, with criminal negligence, starves, dehydrates, or suffocates an animal and as a result causes:
(a) Substantial and unjustifiable physical pain that extends for a period sufficient to cause considerable suffering; or
(b) death.

Animal Cruelty in the First Degree is a class C felony that carries a maximum sentence of 5 years confinement and/or a $10,000 fine.

Simple pet heat safety can save an animal's life. During extreme heat, animals need to have continuous access to shelter and water and owners need to be vigilant about any changes in their behavior. SCRAPS states that dogs and cats can both become dehydrated quickly. Pets can burn their paw pads on hot pavement and their bodies can heat up rapidly.

Please share this information about pet heat dangers to help protect other animals - if you see an animal in the heat unprotected or in a car, advocate on their behalf - call the authorities.

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