FARGO — Police here dealt with 37 animal welfare calls in June — including a report of a car full of feces and 20 panting cats, and another case of a dog struggling to breathe in a vehicle parked outside Target.
One of the 37 calls is being considered for criminal charges. Most animal welfare calls end with an educational warning, said Officer Jessica Schindeldecker, a Fargo police spokeswoman.
On June 23, an officer was dispatched to Target, 4202 13th Ave. S.W., for a report of a dog in a car left unattended for about 20 minutes. The officer noted the "older dog" was "struggling to breathe" in 80-degree heat without food or water, according to a police report.
The officer tried contacting the owner multiple times and had Target staff make an announcement in the store without success. Ultimately, the officer managed to enter the vehicle and cared for the dog until the owner returned over an hour later.
The case was forwarded to the Cass County State's Attorney's Office for consideration of possible criminal charges. Whether charges will be filed is unclear. A message left for the office was not returned Monday, July 1.
In total, three animals were removed from vehicles in June, according to Fargo police. The department put out an announcement Monday, reminding owners to keep their pets safe during summer.
Aside from the Target parking lot case, police issued a citation to a woman who was previously cited June 17 and 20.
On Saturday, June 29, officers responded to the area near First Avenue and Ninth Street South to check on a car containing about 20 cats. The owner of the vehicle told officers she forgot about the cats living in the vehicle because they were homeless.
The vehicle's windows were barely open, the cats were panting, and feces were all over, according to police. Schindeldecker said community service officers are working with the city attorney's office to remove the cats from the owner's care.
If an animal in a vehicle is in distress, Schindeldecker said, it's best to call 911. Callers should tell dispatchers the condition and environment of a distressed animal. She said depending on the severity of the situation, it can speed up response time, but officers will typically arrive within minutes.
As for animals restrained by a chain or tether, according to Fargo Municipal Code, animals cannot be secured to any stationary object for more than two consecutive hours.