DES MOINES, Iowa -- Animal Control says it has rescued about three dogs each day during the recent heat wave.
On Friday morning, one call left a man with an animal neglect citation after Des Moines police rescued a trapped dog from inside a hot car.
The Walmart on the south side of Des Moines was full of shoppers trying to beat the heat, but one dog had no choice, as she was stuck in the car with no water or cool air for at least 30 minutes.
A passerby called police, and Officer Tracy Rhoads says when the dog's owner emerged from the store, he was more concerned about his groceries than his pet.
"'Well I just got all this meat and it's getting warm in the car,' and I thought to myself, seriously, you're worried about meat getting warm in the car but yet you leave your dog for a half hour, if not more?" said Officer Rohdes.
Rhoads cited the owner for alleged animal neglect.
"I love my dog. You shouldn't leave them in there that long," the dog owner said.
Officers said they rescued the animal just in time.
"The dog was panting a lot, to the point where her whole mouth was drenched with spit, saliva,” Officer Rhodes said.
Des Moines resident Racquel Downing watched the man return to his car, she felt just as sorry for the dog as Officer Rhoads.
"I don’t care if it’s for 5 minutes or 10 minutes, it's not fair to the dog. The dog didn't ask to sit there and be left out in this heat, whatever the temperature is it's usually hotter in the vehicle," said Downing.
A thermometer left inside a hot car can go from 85 degrees to over 100 in less than five minutes.
"The dog could have died. The dog could have died, you know, it doesn't take long," said Josh Colvin of Animal Control.
In the end, Animal Control sent the man home with his dog, a citation, and his groceries in tow.
"I think they should have taken the dog. I'm sorry, you don't sit there and leave your kids out in the vehicle when it's this hot, why would you sit there and leave your darn dog?" commented Downing.
Anyone who sees an animal left outside in a vehicle is urged to contact Animal Control.