Published: Aug 03, 2010 11:05 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 03, 2010 8:05 PM EDT

LEE COUNTY, Fla. - A dog is dead after being locked in a car for hours in the summer heat. It's a tragedy Lee County Animal Services says should have been prevented.

The Shitzu-Poodle mix was locked inside a black Nissan Maxima, parked outside Health Park Medical Center. An Animal Services officer responded when worried onlookers called the Sheriff's Office, but by then, it was too late for the little pup.

"He attempted to resuscitate the dog, but it was too late. The dog's temperature registered at 115 degrees," said Ria Brown of Lee County Animals Services.

An Animal Services report cites security at the hospital knew of the problem earlier, but failed to contact them. The report says a security guard told the responding officer, "Yes, they were aware of the dog, but that they were handling other emergencies." Health Park tells WINK News security did try to locate the owner of the dog, while also handling a fire alarm problem inside. All the while, precious time ticked away.

"You could leave a little dog in a car in the sun here in Florida for as short as 10 or 15 minutes, and it'll be expired," Fort Myers veterinarian Dr. Frankie DuPre' said Tuesday.

DuPre' believes the pup didn't have a shot in the summer sun. Dogs have a harder time cooling off in the heat, since they can't perspire. DuPre' now hopes all pet owners can learn a valuable lesson from one woman's fatal mistake.

"The best place for your pet to be as it home. not with you in the car. if you can't take the pet with you indoors, why even take the chance?" DuPre' said.

The dog's owner is facing civil animal cruelty charges. Penalties for the offense max out at a $500 fine.