Pets Often Forgotten During Summer

This week local agencies have been reminding the public about kids being left in hot cars, but the Harris County District Attorney's Office says children aren't the only ones who often suffer in scorching hot vehicles. Bill Stamps explains.

Just about everyone has pulled into a parking lot and seen a dog in the backseat of a nearby car.

Belinda Smith is head of the Harris County District Attorney’s Animal Cruelty Unit.

"People go inside either a restaurant or a business. They leave their dog in the car with the window cracked just a hair and you know, it gets pretty hot pretty fast."

Smith says people think they’re doing the right thing by letting the window down an inch or so, but she says that’s not enough. The pet owner can be charged with a misdemeanor; although, it’s not something that happens very often.

One thing that does happen more in the summer months is cruelty to animals by juveniles.  HPD is investigating a handful of cases right now in which dogs have been burned beaten or shot. Smith says such cases should be a red flag for parents that the child or teen needs help.

"I am aware of studies that show that there is a correlation between animal abuse, child abuse and domestic violence."

In some cases she says, the child may not be old enough to be charged with a crime, but because of the nature of the act, investigators may refer the case to child protective services.