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Greenwich Daily Voice serves Greenwich, CT
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Kids Alone in Car? Police Warn of Dangers, Tickets

After a Greenwich woman was cited for leaving her children and dog unattended inside her minivan last Saturday as she worked out at the gym, police are reminding residents of the dangers of leaving kids and pets alone in cars, especially as the temperatures rise.

“Leaving a child under 12 alone in a car poses a risk to that child’s safety,” said Sgt. Mark Zuccerella, head of the Greenwich Police Department’s Special Victims Unit. “Even if you leave a kid over the age of 12 in a car on Greenwich Avenue with the air conditioning on and an officer walks by, it’s still up to our discretion.”

The 43-year-old single mom had left her two children, under the age of 12, and a golden retriever in the minivan with bottles of water and lowered windows while she worked out at the Equinox gym on Old Track Road. She was found in the gym and issued a misdemeanor summons for leaving a child unsupervised in a motor vehicle and cruelty to animals.

Zuccerella said children above the age of 12 are legally allowed to be alone in a car, as long as the child is mentally and physically capable. But he urged using good judgment. “There are times when a child’s health and safety are at risk,” said Zuccerella. “A car is always going to heat up, so we’re always going to ere on the side of caution.”

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals , on an 85-degree day, it takes just 10 minutes for the interior of a car to reach 102 degrees and 20 minutes to reach 120 degrees. Leaving windows cracked and water in the car is not enough to keep kids or pets cool.

According to Jill Buckley, senior director of ASPCA Government Relations & Mediation, even if a state doesn’t have a specific law that addresses animals left in hot cars, concerned residents can call police because it may be animal cruelty under state or local laws.

A total of 14 states prohibit inhumane confinement of animals in parked cars, though Connecticut is not one of them. However, under Connecticut state statutes, cruelty to animals can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony and can include a fine of up to $1,000 or up to one year in prison.

When do you think it’s OK to leave kids alone? How do you keep your pet cool as temperatures rise?

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