Dogs & Child Left In Hot Car In Parking Lot of Hobby Lobby In Warwick, RI-Violations Issued- Wrist Slap, Case Dismissed
Tonight at Warwick Municipal Court, Judge Gerstenblatt had before him another case of dogs being left in a hot car on June 25, at Hobby Lobby in Warwick RI. The defendant pleads not guilty to two counts of animal cruelty with fines of $1000.
Two dogs along with a child (undisclosed age of child) were left inside an unattended vehicle for approximately 35-45 minutes. According to the incident reports, the outside temperature at TF Green Airport at the time Warwick Animal Control arrived, which was at approximately 11:00 am, was 73 degrees F.
When animal control tried taking temperature readings inside the car upon arrival, the two dogs, a German Shepherd and a Labrador Retriever became aggressive and the dogs had to be removed from the vehicle. Warwick Animal Control then took two readings, one from the driver's floor area which was 90.3 F, and another temperature reading was taken from the vehicle center floor area which came back at 89.6 F. The defendant insisted another temperature reading be completed ( after car doors were open) and that reading came back at 83 F (the incident report stated that 83F reading may not be accurate).
The defendant pleads not guilty before the Judge, then has a "conference" in the lobby area outside the doors of the City Hall chambers with Assistant City Solicitor attorney Diana Pearson. The defendant repeatedly states the temperature readings were "ridiculous" and that "the dogs were not in any harm." She refuses to listen or even try to understand that even though the temperature outside was 73F, the temperature inside the car is completely separate from what's going on outside.
After the defendant complains about not being able to pay the fines because she has to pay her taxes, Attorney Diana Person then makes the decision to dismiss the charges and not have the case go to trial, only imposing a charge of $35.00 in court fees.
The case then goes back before Judge Gerstenblatt after attorney Pearson makes her decision to dismiss it. You will hear the Judge say in the video below that the issues he has with the incident report is that it is not known exactly how long the dogs were in the vehicle (even though there were witnesses on scene), and the exact conditions of the dogs are also not known. You will hear the judge read the "dogs were panting intermittently." The Judge also references the 83 degree temperature reading, but he doesn't even mention the two other readings of 90.3 and 89.6.
The ACT itself of leaving two dogs and a child in a vehicle that's 90F- 89F or even 83F for about 40 minutes- unattended- should be enough to impose a $1000 fine... never mind a trial! If these incidents keep resulting in slaps on the wrist, these people will never learn, and it will also not deter others from committing the same acts of animal/child neglect and cruelty! Oh but no! Once again in the City of Warwick it's another -- DISMISSED CASE OF ANIMAL CRUELTY.
Even on a 73 degree day, temperatures inside a vehicle can soar to 110F in 30-40 minutes!
When I tried to politely educate the defendant on how temperatures can skyrocket inside a car even on a day she thinks is "cool," she didn't want to hear it and got up and sat somewhere else. She was not open-minded to understanding the consequences of her actions and how serious of a matter it was to leave two dogs along with a CHILD inside a hot, unattended car.
You will hear Judge Gerstenblatt at the end state he wouldn't even leave his dogs and/or a child for any amount of time in a vehicle even on a 45 degree day, but apparently all of the information he had in front of him wasn't enough to fine the defendant and send the case to trial.
Why have the laws if THEY ARE NOT ENFORCED???
We have a very big problem with these animal cruelty case outcomes!!!!
The Rhode Island Law - 4-1-3.2. Animal confinement in motor vehicles prohibited.
(a) No owner or person shall confine any animal in a motor vehicle which is done in a manner that places the animal in a life threatening or extreme health threatening situation by exposing it to a prolonged period of extreme heat or cold, without proper ventilation or other protection from such heat or cold. In order to protect the health and safety of an animal, an animal control officer, law enforcement officer or fire fighter who has probable cause to believe that this section is being violated shall have the authority to enter such motor vehicle by any reasonable means necessary under the circumstances, after making a reasonable effort to locate the owner or other responsible person.
(b) A law enforcement or animal control officer may take all steps that are reasonably necessary to remove an animal from a motor vehicle if the animal's health, safety, or wellbeing appears to be in immediate danger from heat, cold, or lack of adequate ventilation and the conditions could reasonably be expected to cause extreme suffering or death.
(c) Nothing in this section shall prevent a law enforcement officer or animal control officer from removing an animal from a motor vehicle if the animal's safety appears to be in immediate danger from heat, cold, lack of adequate ventilation, lack of food or water or other circumstances that could reasonably be expected to cause suffering, disability, or death to the animal. A law enforcement officer or animal control officer may enter the motor vehicle for the sole purpose of rescue or release of the animal and may not search the vehicle unless otherwise permitted by law.
(d) A law enforcement or animal control officer who removes an animal in accordance with this section shall, in a secure and conspicuous location on or within the motor vehicle, leave written notice bearing the officer's or agent's name and office, and the address of the location where the animal may be retrieved. The owner may retrieve the animal only after payment of all charges that have accrued for the maintenance, care, medical treatment, and impoundment of the animal.
(e) A law enforcement or animal control officer who removes an animal from a motor vehicle pursuant to this section is immune from criminal or civil liability that might otherwise result from the removal.
(f) Any person who knowingly violates this section shall be punished by imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or by a fine of no more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both.