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Sweltering dogs and cats land couple in jail

Brian Humecky

Brian Humecky

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Police arrested a pair of Gwinnett residents this week on charges they left six pets in a parked mini-van where temperatures were gauged by authorities at 145 degrees.

Residents at a Sun Suites Extended Stay Hotel at 3270 Steve Reynolds Blvd. reported the animals were left for hours Tuesday afternoon in a 2006 Chrysler Town and Country with a U-Haul trailer attached.

Responding police found the vehicle parked on asphalt without any shade, its passenger window and rear pop-out windows open with several animals inside. Highs that day reached about 93 degrees in metro Atlanta.

Hotel management provided police with the room number of the vehicle's owners, Brian and Heather Humecky. In interviews, they told police they'd served the animals water a couple hours prior and thought they were fine.

An officer accompanied the suspects to their vehicle for a welfare check, where no water was found for their dogs and cats, according to a Gwinnett police report. A few of the animals -- two cats, two Chihuahuas, a Beagle and a Dachshund -- were "panting heavily," the officer wrote.

An animal control officer rushed the pets to the Gwinnett Animal Clinic for examination. The owners were arrested on misdemeanor charges of cruelty to animals.

Three readings taken with a digital thermometer throughout the van showed temperatures of 116, 128 and 145 degrees, the latter at the vehicle's rear where most pets were found, the report says.

Leaving animals unattended during sweltering summer months, when temperatures in vehicles can climb to extremes in a matter of minutes, puts animals in more danger than some owners realize, Gwinnett police spokesman Cpl. Brian Kelly said.

"It's never acceptable to leave a child, disabled adult or animal unattended within a vehicle, running or not," Kelly said. "Even in temperate weather, conditions in a vehicle can become dangerous in any number of ways."

Both Humeckys remained Thursday at the Gwinnett County Jail on $11,200 bond. Special conditions of their bonds stipulate that neither can own, possess or control any animals.

Neither had retained or been appointed an attorney, according to court records.

The exact nature of their relationship was unclear, Kelly said.