A professional dog walker was cited last week for keeping eight dogs in a hot van in San Francisco, prompting an animal rights group to request signs warning dog owners and walkers about the harm of leaving pets inside cars.
Pamela Uberti, owner of 4 Your Paws Only, was cited $100 per dog Friday afternoon after she was found with eight dogs in her van parked at the Stonestown Galleria Mall off of 19th Avenue, San Francisco Animal Care and Control spokeswoman Rebecca Katz said.
At 12:46 p.m. a call came in about a white van parked near Nordstrom with several dogs inside and no windows open, according to Katz.
An ACC officer responded to the area at 1:03 p.m. and found several people upset that the van was parked in the sun, Katz said.
The officer could not test the temperature inside the van because the windows were closed, but he was able to determine the dogs were OK because they continued barking, Katz said.
After 20 minutes, the officer noticed that the dogs were panting more and barking less and he started to prepare to break a window or open a van door when the dog walker returned to the van.
The walker, identified as Uberti, opened the car, and the officer measured the temperature at 92 degrees, Katz said.
The officer found that the dogs were unharmed and allowed Uberti to return the dogs to their owners.
The ACC will be sending her a letter revoking her dog walking permit in the next few days and Uberti has been removed from a list of permitted dog walkers, Katz said.
Katz said Uberti had no history of infractions while running her dog business.
According to Uberti's LinkedIn profile, she has been the owner of 4 Your Paws Only since June 2008.
She describes her pet sitting and dog walking services on the profile, "Our pet play groups are more like outdoor adventures - whether it be running on the beach or cruisin' in a variety of dog friendly settings."
On her website she lists Cow Hollow, North Beach, the Marina District, Nob Hill, and Pacific Heights as neighborhoods where she offers dog walking services.
Her website also includes a page of testimonials from previous clients.
Calls to her business today went to voicemail.
The incident has spurred People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, to seek action at the Stonestown parking lot.
The group sent a letter Tuesday to the mall's general manager, Cynthia Eichler, asking her to stencil a public service advisory crafted by PETA at the mall's parking lots.
The "Too Hot for Spot" message urges drivers to leave dogs at home during hot weather to prevent deaths and potential brain damage and other injuries from the heat.
PETA officials said even on a relatively mild 78-degree day the temperature inside a car can reach into the 90s, even with a window cracked.
The group is focusing on the mall because they claim shoppers often "pop in" and leave their dogs unattended in the car and forget about the animal left in the heat.
In the letter to Eichler, the group said Friday's incident "highlights the need to offer frequent reminders that dogs must never be left unattended in vehicles, particularly in warm weather."
The group said they would provide the mall the stencil at no cost.
A PETA spokesperson said as of today they had not heard back from the general manager.