Man arrested for allegedly leaving dog in hot car

MERRIMACK – Moments after Merrimack Premium Outlets security personnel told police officers patrolling the area they spotted a dog inside a closed-up vehicle parked in Monday’s bright sun, the temperature inside had already passed the 100-degree mark, police said.

While the front windows were “cracked open,” according to police, the dog was in the back seat – where the windows were all closed. Further, there was no water for the dog to drink, police added.

The dog, which police didn’t describe by size or breed, was subsequently “removed from the vehicle and cared for a police headquarters,” they said in a statement.

Once police were able to locate the dog’s owner, identified as Leiland Stanford Stevens, 66, of 228 Kensington Road in Hampton Falls, they placed him under arrest and charged him with one count of animal cruelty, police said.

Stevens told police he had been shopping in the mall, and was having lunch just before police located him. Police didn’t say whether Stevens was able to explain why he allegedly left the dog inside the locked-up vehicle in the sun while he shopped in the mall.

Stevens was booked at police headquarters then released on personal recognizance bail. He is scheduled to appear in Merrimack district court on June 13, police said.

Police didn’t say whether the dog was eventually returned to Stevens, or if not, who currently has custody of it.

But they did take the opportunity to warn “any and all pet owners” to carefully “reconsider bringing their pets (on) shopping excursions” or similar activities on warm, sunny days.

“The interior of a vehicle,” even with several windows or a sunroof cracked open, “can heat up quite rapidly in a short time, which can lead to serious injury, or death, of our four-legged friends,” police said.

“When in doubt, leave your pets at home. It’s the safe, and smart, choice to make,” they added.