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Dog lover's quest raises anti-sign hackles

The Village of East Hampton had its long-standing

The Village of East Hampton had its long-standing policy on large gatherings at shops formalized. (Aug. 29, 2011) Credit: Erin Geismar

Lynn Lehocky came to the East Hampton Village board meeting on Friday with a big sign under her arm.

It showed a dog in a car with a big black line through it -- a sign designed to warn that pets left in a locked auto with the windows up can die of the heat in just a few minutes.

She said that similar signs were being put up in Southampton and in Sag Harbor, and offered to pay for some of those signs herself, if the village only would put them up. They cost about $35 each, she said.

Lehocky added that locking dogs in a closed car was against the law, even though many people do not know it. "It [the signs] will encourage people who see it to report it," she said.

But while East Hampton's village board was made up of pet lovers, a lot of village residents dislike signs more than they like dogs.

"The Village of East Hampton is very suspect of new signs," Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. told her. "We're all pet lovers, believe me."

The mayor added another, more serious note. If any of those signs were to go up, he said, he would want them to point out that infants, as well as pets, were in serious danger if locked in a car with the windows closed for even a few minutes.

While Lehocky did not get village approval to put up the signs, the mayor offered a compromise, offering to introduce her to village business owners and giving her a chance to ask them to put up signs in their stores or to have literature on hand to give out to pet owners.

Some of the stores in East Hampton Village already leave water dishes for dogs outside their front doors, a practice followed in Southampton Village and Sag Harbor.

Lehocky said she and some friends are working informally to raise attention about the problem of pets locked in cars, and are going to different towns and villages to spread the word.

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