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Wisconsin man says he saved dog from cold car amid dangerously cold temperatures

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Posted at 10:08 AM, Jan 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-31 12:08:57-05

A 40-year-old De Pere, Wisconsin, man says he rescued a dog in a car after a trip to the grocery store during the dangerous cold snap. The dog’s owner says he only left his dog alone for a few moments.

Kevin Leurquin tells NBC26 that he was horrified when he heard the cries of a dog inside a cold car on his way out of Festival Foods in west Green Bay, so he decided to take matters into his own hands.

Leurquin says he checked out of the grocery store at around 8:30 Tuesday night. When he walked out to his car, he says he heard the dog whimpering in a turned-off vehicle across from his.

He says his immediate instinct was to save the dog from the bitter cold. He found that the doors of the car were unlocked, so he took the dog and brought it into his car to warm up.

The temperature at the time was 7 below zero.

One veterinarian who spoke with NBC26 says she starts to worry about a pet's safety at 45 degrees and warns people not to take their pets anywhere in these conditions.

She says the rule of thumb is if we're cold, then chances are, our pets are cold, too.

As a dog owner, Leurquin agrees.

"They get cold just like us. Just because they have fur, that's not a fur coat. I mean, it's just a small layer of fur and that dog was shivering,” says Leurquin.

As for the dog’s owner, Leurquin says he waited with the dog in his car for about a half hour before the owner came out to retrieve it. He caught the encounter on video and the dog owner was very upset, claiming he was only in the store for a couple of seconds.

Leurquin says he called law enforcement about an hour after the exchange to report the incident. Police say no charges have been filed.

Police also say if you ever find yourself in a situation like this one, the best thing to do is call them.

Although there are Good Samaritan laws allowing you to save a person or pet in a dangerously hot or cold car, police say they are trained on how to handle these cases and it is better to let officers do the job.

Here's an extended statement from Green Bay Police:

"Our recommendation in these animal welfare cases though will always be to notify police. We are trained professionals who are used to handling stray animals and it is much less likely that we will be bitten or injured while extricating an animal. Furthermore, we are much less likely to inadvertently allow the animal to escape, run into traffic, etc. Last, but not least, it is easier to document evidence of cruelty if we are direct observers of the situation which will usually aid in successful prosecution in neglect cases.

There is a state statute that allows for good Samaritans in the community to render aid to an animal they believe is endangered, however there are very specific requirements. With our short response times in Green Bay, it is our recommendation that members of the public contact us. Removing an animal from a vehicle is very likely to provoke a disturbance with the owner if they see it happening, which could also endanger the well-intentioned citizen. With all of that said, the statute is summarized below.

Wisconsin Statute 895.484 makes a person immune from civil liability if:
1. They have a “good faith” belief that the person or domestic animal was in imminent danger of suffering bodily harm
2. They use the minimum force necessary to remove the person or the animal
3. They must FIRST determine if the vehicle is locked before using force to enter
4. The MUST FIRST dial 9-1-1 or otherwise summon emergency responders BEFORE taking any action
5. They must wait with the person or animal until emergency services arrive, or leave contact information on the vehicle’s windshield as required by law."