AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin police are trying to figure out how five kittens and a dog died inside a parked car in Austin Thursday evening.
Police say around 9:30 p.m., a person walking by the car parked on West 32nd Street at Hemphill Park saw the animals and called 911. When officers arrived, the animals were already dead.
The kittens were in a crate and the dog was found on the floorboard.
The Austin Police Department’s Animal Cruelty division is investigating; but no information has been released on who might have owned the animals or who the car belonged to.
While it is not known if the animals died from a heat stroke, KXAN’s First Warning Weather Team says it was 93 degrees at 9 p.m. Thursday.
Animal Control officers say it’s a call they get far too often, and that every minute matters when an animal is left in a hot car.
“If we have to break a window, we break a window,” said Mark Sloat, with Animal Control. “Because quite often if we’re waiting till that animal is in distress, it’s not going to survive.”
He says unlike the rest of the state, Austin has an ordinance allowing animal control officers and police to break open a window to help an animal, even before it’s showing signs of distress. The state does allow authorities to break into a car once the animal is in distress, but Sloat says it could be too late at that time.
“We can only go so fast in an Animal Control truck. If they’re what we call ‘flat out’ when we take them out, there’s a good chance they’re not going to survive the trip here,” said Sloat.
He says the danger isn’t just in hot cars.
“We’ve had animals that we’ve had to take off of balconies because they were left on apartment balconies in direct sun all day with no shelter,” said Sloat. “We’ve had animals left in crates out in the yard, again with no shelter other than the crate they’re in.”
He says while citizens aren’t legally allowed to break into cars to rescue an animal, Animal Control officers can — and to never hesitate calling for help.
If you see an animal in a hot car, you’re asked to call 3-1-1.
If the animal is in distress, Sloat says call 911.