Spectacular burning car rescue ends with dog adoption
On June 18, NYPD Officer Aruna Maharaj and his fellow officers responded to a call about a dog locked in a car on a hot day.
When officers came across the car, which was parked on a Manhattan street, they saw a two-year-old American Eskimo dog named Snow trapped inside. The windows were closed and the outside temperatures hovered in the mid 80’s.
“When we first saw Snow in the car, we were very worried,” says Officer Maharaj. “He was upset and seemed to be looking for an escape. We didn’t know exactly how long he had been there.
After smashing the car’s front passenger window, officers unlocked the car and pulled Snow from the back seat. In a Tweeterthe 19th arrondissement shared a video of the rescue.
Officer Maharaj took Snow into his vehicle and blew up the air conditioner. He licked her face and sat on her lap, panting.
Risks of heatstroke
Officers took Snow to Animal Care Centers in New York, where he remained for two days until his transfer to the ASPCA on June 20.
Fortunately for Snow, by the time he arrived at the ASPCA, his blood work and organ function were normal, according to Dr. Laura Niestat, a forensic veterinarian who examined Snow. She says her story is a good reminder to the public just how life-threatening heat and heat-related illnesses can be to pets.
“It is hopefully common knowledge that leaving a dog in a locked car is dangerous,” says Dr Niestat, noting that heat-related illnesses are indicated by a range of symptoms including panting, agitation, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, kidney failure, neurological dysfunction, seizures and death.
Know when things get too hot
“Heat stroke is a completely preventable life-threatening emergency,” says Dr. Aubrey Crowley, veterinarian and medical supervisor at the ASPCA’s Animal Recovery Center (ARC), where Snow stayed for 10 days. “While heatstroke can happen anywhere, cars are particularly dangerous. Cracking windows or parking in the shade is not enough to make the temperature inside a parked car safe for us. any dog.
Dr. Sarah Mantovani, medical supervisor at the ASPCA Canine Annex for Recovery and Enrichment (CARE) — where Snow stayed until the end of her stay — warns owners not to make assumptions about the temperature at the inside a car as a function of the temperature outside.
“When the temperature outside is 70 degrees, which seems benign, the inside of a locked car can reach 104 degrees in 30 minutes; on an 85-degree day, it only takes 10 minutes,” she says, citing data on the AVMA website.
“Dogs cool themselves very differently from humans by panting and moving air over their tongues. If the temperature inside is restricted and hot, there is no way for dogs to keep their body temperature low.
Dr. Niestat reinforces this important understanding.
“Although an animal’s heat tolerance and risk of developing heat-related illness may vary depending on its breed, size, age, hydration and general health, I follow the rule that if it’s hot for you, it’s hot for your pet,” she says. “Animals exposed to extreme heat may even appear healthy, but they should be evaluated by a veterinarian as soon as possible.”
Likewise, cold cars can also pose a significant health risk to a pet.
“In cold weather, a car can cool your pet down quickly,” says Dr. Niestat. “Young, old, sick or thin pets are particularly sensitive to cold environments and should never be left in cold cars. Never leave your pet unattended in a vehicle, in hot or cold weather.
New stages for snow
While at the ASPCA, Snow also received vaccinations, routine deworming, and was neutered. Meanwhile, the NYPD arrested a 26-year-old man and charged him with animal cruelty. The accused pleaded guilty to an offense for his conduct and his sentence included a fine, community service and a court order prohibiting him from owning or caring for animals for five years.
While the ASPCA focused on Snow’s care, Officer Maharaj stayed in touch. And although she had no plans to adopt a pet, when responding to Snow’s case, Officer Maharaj couldn’t bring herself to say goodbye. On July 26, she and her fiancé adopted Snow.
A safer new life
Officer Maharaj reports that Snow has adjusted well to his new home in Nassau County.
“He takes long walks in the nearby marina, which he loves,” she says, adding that Snow also enjoys playing with the family’s two-year-old cat, Katie.
“They both love playing together in the garden,” says Officer Maharaj. “When Snow is relaxed, he loves to snuggle up in my lap or near my feet with a favorite toy. He loves being around people and is curious. And he always seems to have a smile on his face.
Officer Maharaj admits meeting Snow was love at first sight.
“When we rescued him, he licked my face in appreciation,” says Officer Maharaj. “That’s when I knew I wanted to take him home with me.”
On Nov. 15, Officers Maharaj and James Robinson were among 20 professionals from the NYPD, veterinary field, and prosecutors’ offices who received ASPCA Appreciation Awards for their integral roles in the enforcement, investigation and prosecution of cases of animal cruelty and neglect. In August, the two officers — who are the neighborhood coordinating officers near the ASPCA’s adoption center and animal hospital — arrested a man who was filmed beating his dog. The ASPCA is grateful to all recipients for their unwavering dedication to the care and safety of animals throughout New York City.