Simi Valley mom arrested for leaving 3 kids in hot car

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (KABC) -- A Simi Valley mother was arrested Monday after leaving her three young children in a hot car while she went to see a vet.

Authorities responded to a report of a disturbance at Grand American Tires in the 1800 block of E. Los Angeles Avenue at about 3:40 p.m. Officers located the woman described in the call at the Vet Hospital with her sick dog.

While officers were investigating the incident, they learned that there were three children, ages 1, 3 and 5, locked in a car across the street. The vehicle's windows were rolled up, and the engine was not running, so the children did not have air conditioning.

Police believe the children had been in the hot car for at least 20 minutes, with temperatures outside in the 90s.

"The youngest, the 1-year-old, was lethargic, had an increased temperature, so there were some obvious indications that the heat had already taken at least some medical toll on the children," said Cmdr. Stephanie Shannon of the Simi Valley Police Department.

Officers forced entry into the car, and the children were taken to an area hospital to be evaluated. They were later released to a relative.

"As a parent myself, that's very difficult to process, that the dog's well-being somehow was more important than the well-being of these children," Shannon said.

Amanda Woodruff, 28, was arrested at the scene for DUI and felony child endangerment. Police say Woodruff was under the influence of either drugs or alcohol. Children's protective services is investigating the incident.

Workers inside the animal hospital say they knew something was wrong when Woodruff arrived. Lauren Munguia says she raced out of the Angeles Animal Hospital when she saw Woodruff violently dragging her sick dog on a choke chain toward the hospital. Munguia says Woodruff told her the dog needed help, and she also said that she could not find her children.

"It's scary to think that there could be three children we'd be going to a funeral for," Munguia said. "People need to keep being observant."

Authorities want to remind the public to never leave a child or pet in a hot car, even if it's for a few minutes.

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