Officers urge people not to leave children and pets in hot cars

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The Albemarle County Police and the Charlottesville Fire departments are urging people not to leave their children or pets inside vehicles as we approach the summer months.

In 2018, 52 children and 58 pets died in hot cars in the United States.

Temperatures can quickly rise inside vehicles while the windows are up, and pets and children could potentially get a heat stroke and die.

ACPD officers Larry Crickenberger and Terry Walls said there are stiff consequences for adults who leave their children and pets inside hot vehicles.

"We could potentially charge an individual with animal cruelty," said Crickenberger. "That carries not only a fine but the potential of jail time."

"There could potentially be child neglect type charges," said Walls. "There would be an investigation. They could face jail time or some type of other penalties."

Police say adults could face consequences for making a personal decision to remove a child or pet from a vehicle, especially if there is damage done to the vehicle.

"It would ultimately be an evaluation of the totality of the circumstances," said Walls. "Was there a true emergency or did the citizen overreact? That would all have to be evaluated."

"The best thing to do is to see if they can get them out," said Charlottesville firefighter Clifton Dooms. "Next step would be to call 911. Those are the best things to do to remedy the situation."

Dooms also provided some tips to adults so they can remember to check on their child or pet when exiting their car.

"If you are heading to work, put your briefcase, laptop, or cell phone in the backseat where your child is so you don't forget your work stuff as well as your child," said Dooms.

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