Owner Sentenced After Dog Died of Heat Exhaustion at Foothills Golf Course

GOLDEN, Colo. (Jan. 3, 2024) – Michael Reynolds was sentenced yesterday for the death of his dog “Keef” after Reynolds left the dog inside his car for over 4 hours in 80-degree temperatures.

On Jul. 4, 2023, Reynolds drove from his home in Fort Collins to the Foothills Golf Course in Littleton to play an 18-hole round of golf. Reynolds brought his German Shepherd mix, “Keef,” with him and planned to keep him in the car.

At approximately 11:45 am, a witness reported hearing loud “whimpering” from a dog inside a vehicle in the parking lot with no windows rolled down. That person attempted to locate the owner and ultimately went to the clubhouse to call 911. By noon, other witnesses noticed the dog was in obvious distress, reporting the expiration from the dog’s breathing was so much that it had begun to fog the windows of the vehicle.

One Good Samaritan used a golf club to shatter the rear driver’s side window, while another crawled inside the vehicle and unlocked the door to rescue the dog. Unfortunately, the dog was unresponsive, and a CPR-certified witness on scene attempted to revive the dog but was not successful. 

At approximately 1 pm, Reynolds returned to his vehicle and learned that Keef had passed away. Reynolds, who was extremely distraught, reported that the dog had been in the car since about 8:45 am, and he believed he left the windows cracked. He also reported he left water for the dog.

Reynolds was issued a summons on scene, and the dog was taken to the Foothills Animal Shelter. A necropsy later confirmed that Keef died of heat exhaustion.

On Oct. 11, 2023, Reynolds pled guilty to count one, Animal Cruelty, which is a class 1 misdemeanor.

One of the responding Animal Control officers addressed the court at sentencing and called the death of Keef “entirely avoidable.”  The officer told the court the temperature inside the car could have exceeded 130 degrees. The officer further described that after the dog had passed away, officers spent another 30 minutes trying to locate the owner before Reynolds returned to his vehicle.  

Prosecutors argued that Reynolds played the entire round of golf without ever returning to check on Keef, even as he made the turn after nine holes.

In her ruling, the court emphasized that Reynold’s actions were not just negligent but highly reckless, as leaving a dog in a car for several hours while drinking beer and golfing is unacceptable and deserving of a jail sentence. The court further stated that cracked windows would not have saved the dog’s life. The court imposed a 60-day jail sentence in addition to 2 years probation, 100 hours of useful public service, monitored sobriety, a dog ownership class, court fines and fees, and no dog ownership for two years.

Following the hearing, counsel for Reynolds filed an emergency motion to appeal the sentence imposed by the judge.

There were no charges for the individual who broke out the car window in an attempt to rescue the dog. Since 2017, Colorado law prevents people who break into a hot vehicle to rescue a pet or at-risk person from being subject to penalties.

 It is never safe to leave an animal or human in the car when it is over 70 degrees outside.