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Indy Animal Care Services uses ‘billboard on wheels’ to remind pet owners of hot vehicle dangers

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — A beat-up jeep is now a billboard on wheels. The red, 2000 Jeep Cherokee Sport has more than 107,000 miles on it. The gas gauge and the air conditioner are both broken, but this jeep is on a mission to make a difference this summer.

“It’s way too hot.  Don’t even try it. Just leave your animal at home,” said Kim Wolsiffer, Deputy Chief of Enforcement Operations with Indy Animal Care Services.

Nearly every window of this jeep is covered with a summer safety message for pet owners. On each side of the jeep, there are pictures of dogs and a thermometer.  There are also instructions on what to do if you see an animal in a car on a hot day.

“It’s definitely a sense of urgency for us, it absolutely is,” said Wolsiffer.

Already this year, including just this past weekend, people have called officers with Indy Animal Care Services to report pets being left in hot cars.

“It’s a juggle between whether or not we need to break your window to get the animal out and safe their life or not,” said Wolsiffer.

Instead of taking this jeep to the junkyard, it’s taking a drive to city parks.  The jeep will stay at each park for a few days. The goal is to get people’s attention and get them to realize it doesn’t take long for a vehicle to become a dangerous place for a pet.

“We want to make sure we are saving the animals. Don’t let them stay in the car whether or not the windows or cracked or if you leave water in the car. Bad deal. It’s way too hot in there,” said Wolsiffer.

There’s a thermometer hanging in the jeep’s windshield.  When CBS4 cameras were there, it was 89 degrees outside. Inside the jeep, the thermometer showed it was more than 120 degrees.

“If it’s too hot for you, it’s also too hot for your animals. Don’t leave your kids in the car. Don’t leave your animals in the car either,” said Wolsiffer.

The shelter’s mascot, Maxwell will sit shotgun as this beat-up jeep starts its summer mission to help keep pets safe.

“If it saves one, then yes, it was totally worth it,” said Wolsiffer.

Later this week, the jeep will start making its rounds on Indy parks.

If you see an animal in distress inside a hot vehicle, call 911 and give dispatchers specific details to help responding officers.

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