Andrew Fiumano and Matt Johnson spent part of their day Wednesday patrolling parking lots.
They did so looking for signs of animals left in hot cars — a panting dog or smears left on windows by panting dogs, for example.
The goal was to prevent any animal deaths in Wednesday’s midday heat.
The effort was the latest by the Schenectady County chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Fiumano is a volunteer peace officer with the organization, and an investigator. Johnson is a volunteer lieutenant.
“We’re trying to make people aware that we are stepping up enforcement on it,” Johnson said in the parking lot of the Rotterdam Wal-Mart on Wednesday.
The two were out in marked SPCA vehicles patrolling multiple area parking lots for about 31⁄2 hours Wednesday. They went to the Lowes and Wal-Mart in Glenville, Central Park in Schenectady and Rotterdam Square mall and BJ’s in Rotterdam.
They ended at the Wal-Mart and Hannaford parking lot in Rotterdam.
“We’re actually pretty happy to say that, so far, we have not found any animal in distress or anything like that,” Fiumano said.
The threat to dogs in closed cars is an immediate one, in even comfortable weather. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, deadly heat can build up in a car when it is only 78 degrees outside, even with windows cracked.
The site notes that even leaving pets in cars during quick errands is dangerous to the animals.
The Humane Society of the United States warns that the temperature inside a car can reach over 100 degrees within 10 minutes on an 85-degree day. After 30 minutes, it can be 120.
“The best option is always to leave the dog at home,” Johnson said Wednesday. “That’s the one we prefer. Leave your dog at home.”
“You wouldn’t leave your kid sitting in a vehicle,” Fiumano added. “You don’t want to leave your animal.”
If the two spotted anything suspicious, they would stop and look inside the car. If they saw an animal, they would try to locate the owner and contact local police to run the plate.
Then, if needed, they would have the animal extricated from the car.
The owner would be cited for leaving a companion animal in a car in extreme heat. The citation comes with a fine — and a possible broken window.
If anyone sees an animal locked in a hot car, the two said they should call police and the local SPCA immediately.