When the weather gets hot, "parked cars are deathtraps for dogs," according to the PETA website. On a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can soar to between 100 and 120 degrees in just minutes, and on a 90-degree day, the interior temperature can reach as high as 160 degrees in less than 10 minutes, the website informs.
With that fear of frying Fido in mind, last Thursday night two community members approached the East Hampton Town Board, asking members to place signs in local parking lots warning motorists of the potential danger to pets.
Displaying an example of a sign marked with the words "Warning: heat kills pets in parked cars," Lynn Lehocky asked permission to produce and hang the signs in municipal lots, beach parking lots and perhaps even on local streets. They cost about $21 each and Lehocky said she'd be willing to pay for them.
Southampton Town and Village, and Sag Harbor Village have already endorsed the initiative. Lehocky noted that it is against state law to leave animals in parked cars under certain conditions. In fact, it's a ticketable offense and carries a fine of up to $250.
Councilwoman Theresa Quigley seemed surprised by the news. "What if I leave my baby [in a parked car]?" she asked, wondering sarcastically if signs warning people against leaving infants in parked cars should be placed as well. "The more we assume people lack common sense, the less they have common sense," she observed.
Councilman Dominick Stanzione reported he'd received an email suggesting signs and referred the matter to the town's public safety office. Zelda Penzel revealed she'd sent the email. Also advocating for the measure, she said, "People are just stupid, they do dumb things."
Also seeking signage was Loring Bolger, chair of the Springs Citizens Advisory Committee. Members of her group are concerned about the volume of people parking at Maidstone Beach and Louse Point without proper permits.
At Maidstone, she said, there are lots of signs at the top of the park and at the pocket parking lots, but there is no signage at the channel, which often accommodates the bulk of the beachgoers. And, many of them bring trucks and cars onto the beach, without the proper permits required for beach driving.
On Louse Point, there's a sign on one side of the road, which results in people parking on the other side without proper permits.