Inglewood woman charged with animal cruelty, animal endangerment for allegedly leaving dog in parked car


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The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office announced Wednesday that it has charged an Inglewood woman with felony animal cruelty and misdemeanor animal endangerment for allegedly leaving her dog in a parked car for hours with the windows rolled up.

A concerned citizen noticed that the dog, a German shepherd mix, seemed to be in distress inside the vehicle belonging to Eloisa Asuncion Zapata, 40, which was parked on Robertson Boulevard in West L.A. Police were dispatched and broke the vehicle’s window, but the dog was already comatose. It later had to be euthanized due to heat stroke, according to the district attorney’s office.


Zapata was released on $21,564 bail and is to be arraigned April 26. If convicted, she could be sentenced to up to three years in prison.

‘Studies have shown that a healthy dog, whose normal body temperature ranges from 101 to 102.5 degrees, can withstand a body temperature of 107 to 108 degrees for only a short time before suffering brain damage or death,’ Deputy District Attorney Debbie Knaan, who oversees all of the district attorney’s prosecutions for animal abuse, said in a statement. ‘Reports stated that [Zapata’s dog’s] body temperature was 107.5 degrees when it was taken to the vet.’

Knaan said she hopes the case will help to raise pet owners’ awareness of the dangers of leaving animals in cars unattended. Last fall, the district attorney’s office launched a campaign to draw attention to the issue; the campaign’s poster, shown above, can be downloaded in English and Spanish at the district attorney’s office website.

Although this recent case involved a dog allegedly left in a car with the windows rolled up, it’s important to remember that animals can suffer heatstroke even in a car whose windows are left open a crack. In 85-degree weather, for example, temperatures inside a vehicle can reach 120 degrees within half an hour, even if a window is cracked.

Should you see an unfortunate pet locked in a car during your travels, the Humane Society of the United States advises you to ‘alert the management of the store where the car is parked. If the owner does not return promptly, call local animal control or the police department immediately.’

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-- Lindsay Barnett