WESTERLY — On the third laser thermometer reading, the temperature was up to 118 degrees. That’s how hot it was in the vehicle where the Westerly animal control officer found a small dog named Teddy in a pet carrier Sunday at the McDonald’s parking lot on Granite Street.
Michael D. Moosey, 58, of 143 Winnapaug Road, Westerly, owner of the 5-year-old Maltese, received a town ordinance citation for cruelty to animals — the first one based on the new technology. Violation of the ordinance carries a $50 mail-in fine, and Moosey said he readily intends to pay it, although the animal control officer, Thomas Gulluscio, said Moosey initially was upset and disputed that the dog was ever in any grave danger.
The incident began with a call to Westerly police from a person who reported a dog in distress and barking inside an older car. Gulluscio reported that when he arrived on the scene he heard the dog bark and found the Maltese, amid the cluttered interior, in a small pet carrier “on the back seat in full sun.”
Gulluscio, who said Moosey told him he had been at McDonald’s for an hour, took three readings with one of the town’s new laser thermometers. The readings were 115, 116 and 118 degrees. Moosey was contrite when contacted on Tuesday, saying he had no idea it was that hot in the car, as it was about 80 degrees outside and the windows were open, but he knows now and is glad to be aware of the danger.
Gulluscio said he removed the dog from the carrier to provide it with water. According to a report on the incident, Teddy “began to devour the water,” drinking more than 16 ounces in less than 5 minutes.
After the dog was cooled he was allowed to return to Moosey, who was presented with a summons and a hearing date of July 10 if he wished to appeal the matter. Gullucio said he warned Moosey to bring his dog home, keep him hydrated and monitor his health for the afternoon.
Gulluscio said this was the first such citation issued under the ordinance. He said he hopes that when pet owners realize, with the help of the new thermometers, how devastatingly hot it can get in a vehicle, they will take heed and not leave a dog in that kind of circumstance. He said Westerly police officers will be equipped with thermometers so they can use them to check on similar type situations while they are out on their patrols.
Moosey said he was embarrassed, adding that the dog is very much a part of his life. He questioned, however, whether the ordinance should be labeled “cruelty to animals” since it evokes such intense negative reactions, and that he certainly meant no harm and will deal with the consequences. A disputed ticket can be appealed during a Westerly Municipal Court hearing before a judge.