FORT MYERS, Fla - A small dog rescued from the inside of a sweltering locked car on Friday is recovering at Lee County Domestic Animal Services.
Bella, a three-year-old chihuahua, sat quietly in the back of her pen when WINK News visited LCDAS on Tuesday afternoon. She is expected to be put up for adoption soon.
"She's fearful, but healthwise she's doing much better," LCDAS spokeswoman Ria Brown told WINK News.
Only WINK News was there on Friday when authorities broke into a car parked outside a hotel on Colonial Boulevard. Bella could be heard yelping loudly inside the car, where temperatures were estimated above 110 degrees. Officials were first alerted to the dog through a 911 call.
"I can see him or her in the backseat of the vehicle," the caller told emergency dispatchers. "There's no food, no water. It's in distress."
Bella's temperature measured a staggering 108 degrees.
"That's heatstroke," Brown said.
Fort Myers Police tell WINK News they are investigating, and charges will depend on whether there was a valid reason for the dog to be left alone in the car. Depending on the situation, Bella's case could constitute animal cruelty.
But Brown says the owners never intended to harm Bella, only leaving her in the car because she wasn't allowed in the hotel. Brown says the owners willingly surrendered Bella to LCDAS after the incident.
Brown calls the decision to leave the dog in the car a case of very bad judgement, and cautions how quickly heatstroke can set in for both pets and people.
"You can't stress enough how important it is not to leave them in a hot car, even for just a few minutes," Brown said. "It can be devastating to people, even though it might be unintentional, to learn they've harmed a family member in that way."