High temps can be deadly for dogs left in cars
By Tyler Stocks
The Daily Reflector
Saturday, June 1, 2019
Despite scorching temperatures, the Greenville Police Department has received reports of least seven dogs being left in vehicles since Saturday.
For those helpless animals, even minutes spent in a hot car can be deadly.
Department spokeswoman Kristen Hunter said that if people spot an animal in such a situation, they should speak up and do something.
“We have to be the voice for animals,” Hunter said. They can’t speak for themselves, so if you come across an animal locked inside a car in a parking lot, don’t just assume somebody else will take care of it or call the police.”
Hunter cautioned that while it may seem like a reasonable action, residents should avoid breaking a window to free the animal, as doing so could lead to criminal charges.
“Your best course of action if you are a citizen who observes an animal in a car, especially in this heat, is to give us a call,” Hunter said. “Call 911, call the emergency line and we will send an officer out there as soon as possible. It is a high priority call for us.
“We realize the severity of that issue and the consequences of leaving your animal in the car,” Hunter said.
She urged those calling in the situation to stay on the scene, if possible.
“It’s also a good idea, if you’re in a store parking lot for example, to alert somebody who works at the store who may be able to get the attention of the owner of the animal inside the store and to identify who the animal belongs to, so the situation can be resolved,” Hunter said.
People who leave animals in hot cars, can and will be charged with animal cruelty, Hunter said.
Dr. Lauren Mercer, with East Carolina Veterinary Service, advises people to leave their dogs at home in the air conditioning rather than taking them to run errands.
“With the weather as hot as it is now, within just 3-4 minutes the temperature inside a car can be over 100 degrees,” Mercer said. “We all love to take our pets everywhere but if you any stops to make, just leave them at home.”
She said that common signs of heat exhaustion in dogs begin with excessive panting, as that is how dogs cool themselves. After panting, vomiting usually occurs and then the pet will become disoriented. As the core body temperature rises, organs begin to shut down.
“Your dog (or cat) can truly die within just a few minutes in a hot car,” Mercer said.
And though dogs are removed from hot cars, sometimes help arrives too late.
“Unfortunately, many of these pets are found too late and actually pass away from organ failure,” Mercer said. “It is important to recognize the symptoms early before your pet has permanent damage to their body.”
Hot cars aren’t the only summertime danger for dogs and Mercer offered advice for keeping them cool as temperatures rise.
“If at all possible, keep your pet indoors during the heat of the day and if your pet has to stay outside, be sure that there is plenty of fresh, clean water and shade,” Mercer said.
She also recommends scheduling walks early in the morning or late in the evening as temperatures tend to be cooler.
Mercer also advised against running with your dog.
“Even the most athletic dog is very susceptible to heat exhaustion in this weather,” Mercer said.
Protecting those paws is critical.
“We also need to be aware of how hot the concrete is during the day,” she said. “It is best to avoid it altogether and walk your pet on grass. Paw pads can blister very easily. A good rule of thumb is- if your bare feet can't stay on the concrete for 10 seconds your dog's paws can't either.
“If you're hot outside, they're even hotter—remember, they have on a fur coat,” Mercer said.
Contact Tyler Stocks at email@example.com or 252-329-9566. Follow him on Twitter @Tylerstocks1987