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Charges follow deaths of dogs left in parked car

CHILOQUIN — Three dogs died after an Eagle Point woman allegedly left them in her truck outside a Klamath County restaurant for four hours Monday. The 65-year-old woman was cited by Klamath County Animal Control on three counts of first-degree animal abuse.

The Klamath County District Attorney's Office would not provide the woman's name, saying they have not reviewed the case and won't release her name unless she's officially charged.

"This actually was a tragedy that did not need to happen," said Gale McMahon, assistant animal control officer for Klamath County.

McMahon, who cited the woman, said the agency received an emergency call at 1:30 p.m. Monday reporting three Rottweilers had died from the heat.

McMahon responded to Melita's Restaurant, in the 39000 block of Highway 97. The dogs, a 5-year-old male and two 1-year-olds — one male, one female — had all died despite a passerby's attempts to get them out and cool them.

McMahon said the woman had gone inside the restaurant at about 9:15 a.m. and claimed she had been making phone calls. The high temperature reached 81 degrees that day, but McMahon said temperatures inside parked vehicles can get about 50 degrees hotter than that in about two hours.

"It can be even faster than that," he said, adding a dog in a car last year in Klamath County died after being left inside for 90 minutes.

"They're like small children," McMahon said of canines left inside hot cars. "They have no capable way of taking care of themselves."

If charged and convicted, the woman could spend up to 90 days in jail and pay up to $18,750 in fines, McMahon said. She could also lose her right to own dogs for up to five years.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.