Every summer, we see the same headlines: a child or an animal left in a hot car. Leaving a dog or child in a vehicle can quickly turn deadly.
When the temperatures rise outside, they soar inside a vehicle.
Every year, hundreds of pets die from heat exhaustion because they are left in parked vehicles, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Dogs are extremely vulnerable to heat-related illness because they can only cool off by panting and through the pads in their feet. Being left in a car, even one that is parked in the shade or with the windows cracked, can compromise a pet’s health in a short amount of time.
For example, it may be 72 degrees outside, but a car’s internal temperature can rise to 116 degrees within 20 minutes. Leaving the windows cracked will not help, as studies have shown that this has little effect on a car’s internal temperature.
Parking in the shade is not a solution either. A vehicle can quickly reach a temperature that puts a pet at risk, even on a day that may not seem that hot to you. A dog’s normal body temperature is between 101 to 102.5 degrees; a dog can only withstand a high body temperature for a short time before suffering nerve damage, heart problems, liver damage, brain damage or even death.
What to do if a dog is spotted unattended in a car:
If a dog is alone in a parked car, go inside nearby businesses and ask the manager to make an announcement, call the police and call the local animal control agency. If the dog is in distress, call 911 right away.
For the safety of your pet, when you go out and about, leave him at home if he cannot go inside with you. We never know how long the checkout line will be or what distraction can turn a two-minute errand into 20 minutes.
Traci D. Howerton is the volunteer coordinator for Animal Rescue New Orleans (ARNO), a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. For more information on ARNO, visit www.animalrescueneworleans.org.