Deputies from the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) rescued a dog trapped in a hot car for several hours while the owner drove off with her boyfriend to deliver food for a food delivery company.
HCSO Deputy Public Information Officer (PIO) Michael Terry said that around 10 p.m. On June 25, deputies responded to a report of an endangered animal at Linda Pedersen Park in Spring Hill.
According to the caller, the animal had been left alone inside the vehicle from 2 p.m., when the man went fishing at the park to 10 p.m. when he returned to his vehicle.
Upon arrival, deputies found the dog inside the vehicle whose windows were closed except for a slight opening in the driver’s side window.
“The outdoor temperature during this time reached 95 degrees,” Terry said.
Deputies removed the animal from the vehicle through a previously damaged window that had been covered with plastic sheeting.
While they were at the scene, the dog’s owner, 49-year-old Amy Sitaro, returned to the vehicle and told deputies that she had left the animal in the car around 2 p.m., when she left it to accompany her boyfriend to deliver food from DoorDash and Grubhub to Wesley Chapel. According to Sitaro, neither food delivery service allows dogs to be in a delivery vehicle.
Officers from the HCSO Animal Enforcement Unit took custody of the animal at the scene and completed a fitness petition there.
A warrant for Sitaro’s arrest on an animal cruelty charge is pending, Terry said.
According to the Animal Law Center of the University of Michigan, Florida is one of 14 states that allow anyone to rescue a distressed animal from a vehicle, and that limits the rescuers’ civil or criminal liability if they must forcibly enter the vehicle in order to rescue the animal.