Animal abuse arrest in Chandler leads to increase in tips to MCSO

Posted at 10:28 PM, Jun 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-22 09:52:45-04

As soon as the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office arrested a Chandler man for leaving his dogs in the extreme heat, killing one of them, deputies say more calls have come in from people concerned about the safety of pets in their own neighborhoods.

One group of ladies in the Chandler Heights area said they regularly pour water and ice over the fence of one home because they're worried about four dogs often left chained in the yard.

"They have a kiddie pool, but it's filthy, the dogs are tied up, there's no water," said Deanne Martin.

She says several neighbors have called authorities repeatedly and help doesn't seem to be coming fast enough.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio says helping animals is a priority for him, but there is a legal process.

"We do respond, we warn the people then we go back and then we arrest them if they don't do something," said the sheriff.

RELATED: 7 ways to keep your pets cool in the heat

He says his office gets about 40,000 calls about suspected animal abuse or neglect a year. Even with the largest animal crimes unit in the state, it's still only comprised of five detectives.

Complicating matters is Arizona law. The statutes require pet owners to provide food, water and shelter at all times, but don't specify how solid a shelter has to be or how clean--or cold--water needs to be on hot days.

As for taking action on your own to help a dog in distress, he says few would fault someone trying to save a life.

"I'm not trying to tell anybody to violate the law, but you have to use common sense and take care of our animals" said Sheriff Arpaio.

Sheriff Arpaio suggests you call his office at 602-876-1681, as well as city police who may be able to more quickly send a patrol unit for an initial safety check if you suspect animal neglect.

The next step is writing your state lawmaker to get the laws changed.