It's not uncommon for law enforcement to receive calls for help after animals or children are found in cars when it's warm outside, but one call Tuesday seemed "incredibly egregious" to police in the St. Louis area.
A worker called police after finding 13 dogs trapped inside a "fogged up" car in Ellisville, Missouri.
The employee saw the dogs inside a parked car behind a distribution service center at around 9:30 a.m. By then, the outside temperature was nearly 75 degrees, enough to cause overheating inside the car. Police believe the dogs had been in there for six or seven hours.
Ellisville Police Detective Joey Nickles said the rising temperature and the small space probably caused the dogs to panic. When the employee found them, she told police the animals were in distress. The dogs — mostly Lab mix pups — also appeared to be malnourished and infested with fleas.
"You get 13 animals in that confined of a space, those dogs are panting, moving around ... It could have increased the temperature inside the car," Nickles said.
The employee opened the driver's side door for the dogs, which was unlocked.
Police officers arrived shortly after that.
Two dogs in serious condition were taken to a veterinarian clinic nearby, where one of them — an adult dog — died of an apparent heat stroke. Police were told the core temperature of the dog that died was 107 degrees and that the dog had gone into shock.
Police gave the other 11 dogs some water while they waited for St. Louis County animal control. The dogs will be treated by veterinarians there, police said.
Nickles said he expects to receive reports on the condition of each dog, but, he added, it appeared "there will be several that will suffer brain damage."
No one was arrested following the rescue, but police said charges are expected to be filed against a woman who is the owner of the car and a man who was with her.
At least two witnesses told police they saw the man and woman putting the dogs inside the car between 1 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. Tuesday. The car had been parked on the back lot of the distribution center for "about a month or two," police said.
It's unclear why the man and woman put the dogs in the car or where they went afterward.
"With the temperature being only 75, maybe they thought the dogs would be OK," Nickles said. "But the fact of the matter is they never came back to the car."