At about 11:15 am on June 2oth, a woman walking through the parking garage near the Edwards Theater at the Valencia Town Center noticed a heavily panting dog inside a car parked on the bottom floor. The vehicle was parked in a spot designated for a maximum of 90-minute parking only and waited for awhile for the owner of the car to return. When the owner didn’t show up, the woman called the Santa Clarita Sheriff Station and Deputy Ana Rubalcava responded a short time later.
Upon the deputy’s arrival, she saw that the dog was indeed panting heavily, so she broke the window to get the vehicle opened. The dog remained by the vehicle and the deputy until the owner returned.
Eventually, the driver of the vehicle – a young girl – returned and was questioned by deputies. She said that she had parked in the shade and thought that the dog would be okay in the car until she returned. The driver of the vehicle was given a citation and the dog was taken to a shelter.
Leaving an animal in an unattended vehicle is covered under California Penal Code 597.7 and prohibits leaving an animal in an unattended vehicle if doing so puts the animal in danger. For an animal to be put in danger, it must be either too hot or too cold outside for the animal to comfortably remain in the vehicle, there is a lack of adequate ventilation, a lack of food or water, or any other circumstance that could reasonably cause the death of, or harm to, an animal.
Provided that the animal doesn’t suffer great bodily injury, a first offense is punished by a $100 fine for each animal left unattended. It the animal does suffer great bodily harm, the charge is a misdemeanor with a maximum fine of $500 and a maximum 6-month jail sentence.