Chihuahua recovering after being left with frozen burritos, ice cream in hot car parked at zoo in Palm Desert

Local news

A Chihuahua who was left inside a scorching car on Thursday while his owner went to a zoo in Palm Desert is said to be doing well, officials reported.

An employee from The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens noticed the dog around 2 p.m. inside a black Escalade that was parked in the zoo’s lot, according to a news release from the Riverside County Department of Animal Services. Daniel Mora, an animal services officer, responded and used an infrared thermometer to check the temperature inside the SUV which was measured at 104 degrees.

An officer from the Palm Desert Police Department was also called and helped open the SUV and rescue the 3-year-old dog. Officials said the Chihuahua was panting, but was not overheated. He was placed in an air-conditioned truck and taken to the Coachella Valley Animal Campus in Thousand Palms.

The chihuahua was taken to the Coachella Valley Animal Campus in Thousand Palms for an examination. (Riverside County Department of Animal Services)
The chihuahua was taken to the Coachella Valley Animal Campus in Thousand Palms for an examination. (Riverside County Department of Animal Services)

Veterinarian staff found two frozen burritos and five, wrapped, drumstick-shaped ice cream cones which were described as “lukewarm” inside the Chihuahua’s crate.

“It really was so bizarre that the dog was not suffering,” Emily Vialpando, a registered veterinary technician, said. “Upon examination, he didn’t exhibit any signs consistent with heat stress.”

The police officer left an official notice on the SUV’s windshield. Officials said the owner will be cited for leaving an animal unattended in a vehicle.

Animal Services Director Julie Bank said while she can “appreciate the ingenuity of using frozen items” left for the dog, she advises against such practices and leaving pets in hot cars.

“It’s not a laughing matter if the pet suffered or, even worse, perished from being left in a car for who knows how long,” Bank said. “Our advice is always to leave your pet at home when running errands or visiting attractions.”

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