Police questioning Ralph Prisco after several shoppers reported he’d left his dog in a hot car Monday. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)


A Bronx man was issued a summons for leaving a dog in his car outside the Shrewsbury Trader Joe’s store Monday, when temperature approached 90 degrees, authorities tell redbankgreen.

Ralph Prisco, 80, was cited for animal cruelty, an offense carrying a potential $1,000 fine and six-month jail sentence, according to Monmouth County ASPCA Detective Sergeant William Hyer.

Hyer said Shrewsbury police were called to the Trader Joe’s parking lot by two eyewitnesses, who reported seeing saw Prisco’s 13-year-old female border collie mix confined in Prisco’s vehicle for an extended amount of time.

When Shrewsbury Police Officer Mary-Ellen Jennings arrived on the scene, she found and questioned Prisco, who contended he was away from the car for under five minutes, which witnesses on the scene disputed, Hyer said.

The dog, which was not confiscated, was uninjured, said Hyer, who added that situations like this happen all too often in the steamy summer months.

“Unfortunately, we see this all the time once June rolls around,” he said. “We probably see about eight to ten cases every weekend, and unfortunately sometimes the animals don’t make it. The conditions inside a parked car during this kind of heat can be extremely dangerous to a dog, often times even fatal.”

Hyer explained that dogs “sweat” through their mouths via panting and heavy breathing, allowing moisture to be freed from their tongues and the moist lining of their lungs. While this works very effectively for a little while, after prolonged exposure to unsafe conditions, a dog will dehydrate, their tongue will dry up, and their method of cooling will be completely gone.

“Humans can compensate over time by sweating, but a dog’s body cools off in a different way, and they can’t take that kind of heat,” he said. “It’s completely unsafe to leave a dog out there in these kind of conditions. If you don’t take my word for it, go into a parking lot, turn off your car and crack the windows about three inches. In about 15 minutes, I think you’ll get the idea.”