Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hot Vehicles and Pets - DANGER!

The "dog days" of summer are here. The heat can be very dangerous and deadly to dogs. I can't stress enough to people the dangers of leaving an animal in a parked vehicle with the windows cracked. A parked vehicle on a mild or warm day (much less a hot day) can reach temperatures of 100 - 130+ degrees in a matter of a few minutes.

If anyone doesn't believe me then test it out for yourself (in the sun and the shade) on a hot day (on you NOT your animal). I did and I was floored at the results. Go to a store parking lot and turn off your vehicle, crack a window slightly (as you would do for your pet) then sit and wait. Sit in the vehicle as long as you can possibly stand it before you feel like you are going to pass out. It won't take long before you get out of the vehicle. Sadly enough, animals can't open the doors and escape like we can.

Dogs don't sweat like we do. They pant to try and cool themselves off (which isn't very effective in a vehicle). We must also take into consideration that animals have fur and we don't, which makes them heat up even faster than we would.

Every year, numerous animals die from being left in hot vehicles as their owners shop, eat lunch, run errands, etc. People don't realize how long they are in a store. The familiar words I've heard..."Oh, I was only in the store for a minute." Sadly, I have actually seen an animal killed by the heat of a vehicle from an owner who said those exact words. I walked by the vehicle after it was too late to save the dog....he was already gone.  It was tragic, heartbreaking and completely unnerving to see.

So many people want to take their animals with them on shopping trips but some stores (most food stores) due to regulations won't allow an animal in the store. The pet owner then leaves the animal in the vehicle sometimes unaware of the dangers. Please do you and your beloved pet a favor and leave them home. They will be much happier. You can always take them for a "joy ride" later on in the day.

Another option (which I sometimes do) is to bring along a pet stroller for your pet to go in air conditioned stores with you (if allowed). A word of caution, only air conditioned stores. Places like Plant Nurseries or Garden Centers that are outdoors get too hot for animals even in strollers.

If you see an animal left in a vehicle and in distress then please do the following things: take down the car's color, model, make and license-plate number, have the owner paged inside nearby stores and call the police or local humane authorities/animal control. Have someone keep an eye on the animal. If police are unresponsive or too slow and the animal's life appears to be in imminent danger, find a witness (or several) who will back your assessment, take steps to remove the suffering animal and then wait for authorities to arrive.

I found a great website that is dedicated to the dangers of animals being left in hot cars. It is called My Dog Is Cool. It has so much wonderful information and tools to help you better understand the dangers of animals and the heat (especially in vehicles).

Please take these few simple steps to insure your pet's safety and well-being so you will be able to enjoy your beloved pet for years to come. Thanks and Happy Summer! :-)