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UPDATE: Ketchum Approves Ordinance Giving Police Authority to Enter Vehicles, Rescue Overheated Pets


UPDATE: July 9, 2015

As expected, the Ketchum City Council unanimously passed an ordinance July 7 allowing that city's police force to enter vehicles to rescue pets from overheated vehicles.

This morning's Twin Falls Times-News reports that Ketchum Police log approximately 20 calls per year about dogs left in oven-hot vehicles, but Idaho law does not give local law enforcement the authority to save an animal from a vehicle.

The new ordinance require Ketchum police to attempt to contact the vehicle owner before rescuing the animal. It also triggers a $100 fine for a first time offense and $250 for a second offense.

ORIGINAL POST: July 3, 2015

Officials in Ketchum say they've received more than 20 calls so far this year about dogs being locked in oven-like vehicles. As a result, the Ketchum Police Department is proposing an ordinance that would give law enforcement the authority to remove pets from overheated vehicles. 

The Ketchum City Council is set to take up the proposed ordinance at its Monday, July 6 meeting. Ketchum Police Chief David Kassner said Idaho law does not give police explicit authority to enter a vehicle when an animal appears to be in danger.

"Usually, it's lack of education," said Ketchum Community Service Officer Wes Whitesell in a prepared statement. "People don't realize how quickly vehicles heat up."

For example, Whitesell said he aimed a scanner at the interior of a vehicle that had been left in the sun when the outside temperatures was only 84 degrees; it registered 141 degrees on the front seat of the car.

The proposed ordinance calls for a $100 fine for a first offense, and a $250 fine for a subsequent offense if a person leaves a "companion animal unattended in a standing or parked vehicle in a manner or under conditions that endanger the animal's safety or health."

The ordinance would grant police the authority to use "reasonable force" to enter the vehicle and remove the animal after first making an attempt to contact the animal's owner. Any rescued animal would be taken to a veterinary clinic if emergency care is needed and, if not claimed, to the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley.

Ketchum Mayor Nina Jonas says she expects the ordinance to pass. "And we hope that other communities and the state Legislature will follow our lead."