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Inglewood woman charged with animal cruelty, animal endangerment for allegedly leaving dog in parked car

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office announced Wednesday that it has charged an Inglewood woman with felony animal cruelty and misdemeanor animal endangerment for allegedly leaving her dog in a parked car for hours with the windows rolled up.

A concerned citizen noticed that the dog, a German shepherd mix, seemed to be in distress inside the vehicle belonging to Eloisa Asuncion Zapata, 40, which was parked on Robertson Boulevard in West L.A. Police were dispatched and broke the vehicle's window, but the dog was already comatose. It later had to be euthanized due to heat stroke, according to the district attorney's office.

Zapata was released on $21,564 bail and is to be arraigned April 26. If convicted, she could be sentenced to up to three years in prison.

"Studies have shown that a healthy dog, whose normal body temperature ranges from 101 to 102.5 degrees, can withstand a body temperature of 107 to 108 degrees for only a short time before suffering brain damage or death," Deputy District Attorney Debbie Knaan, who oversees all of the district attorney's prosecutions for animal abuse, said in a statement. "Reports stated that [Zapata's dog's] body temperature was 107.5 degrees when it was taken to the vet."


Knaan said she hopes the case will help to raise pet owners' awareness of the dangers of leaving animals in cars unattended. Last fall, the district attorney's office launched a campaign to draw attention to the issue; the campaign's poster, shown above, can be downloaded in English and Spanish at the district attorney's office website.

Although this recent case involved a dog allegedly left in a car with the windows rolled up, it's important to remember that animals can suffer heatstroke even in a car whose windows are left open a crack. In 85-degree weather, for example, temperatures inside a vehicle can reach 120 degrees within half an hour, even if a window is cracked.

Should you see an unfortunate pet locked in a car during your travels, the Humane Society of the United States advises you to "alert the management of the store where the car is parked. If the owner does not return promptly, call local animal control or the police department immediately."

Dog dies in parked car while owners attend 'American Idol' audition

-- Lindsay Barnett

Comments () | Archives (3)

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I wish people would stop bringing their pets with them on errands where they would have to leave the pet in the car to wait. I know that if I wait in a car with the windows rolled up or even a small crack is NOT comfortable. Why can't these people figure it out? It also doesn't matter on the size of the animal, either way they are uncomfortable. Just leave the pet home, period. Or if someone else is with you, have the person put the pet on a leash and have them wait outside the car and walk the animal around, they'd be a lot happier getting some new smells anyways.

Can I respectfully suggest that L.A. Unleashed break some new ground and decide to no longer refer to animals as "it," as in: "It later had to be euthanized due to heat stroke..."

This blog has the prominence to make a significant stand, and I think this is a good one. I don't know of anyone who thinks their dog or cat is an "it." The dog who died in this car wasn't an it, but a he or a she. "Its" don't die, living beings die, in this case horribly. It may seem like a small issue, but it's not. Thanks

Hi L.A. Voter, thanks for another very good point! I'm with you -- although, as you point out, many writers and editors out there would disagree with us both -- that an animal is definitely a "he" or "she" rather than an "it." Unfortunately, in this particular instance I haven't been able to find out if the dog (R.I.P.) was male or female. Your point is well-taken, though!


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