Unfortunately, this is the time of year when we hear news reports of dogs being locked in hot cars, often not being discovered until it’s too late. Many of these cases go unreported, known only by the grieving owners.
Far too many dogs die each year from complications related to heat exhaustion from sitting, faithfully awaiting their masters’ return. Masters who obviously love their pets; that’s why they don’t wish to leave them home alone. Masters the pets adore and blindly trust to take care of them. This person is just going to grab a few things in the store or a quick bite to eat, even cracking the windows to make the dog more comfortable.
The problem is, that a few minutes can turn into a few more as the heat rapidly rises in that car, even with the cracked windows, which have little effect in a stationary vehicle.
In an independent study, parking some cars in temperatures between 72 and 96° resulted in the following:
Elapsed time Temperature rise inside vehicle:
10 minutes 19°F
20 minutes 29°F
30 minutes 34°F
60 minutes 43°F
1 to 2 hours 45-50°F
This means that on an 80° day, the interior of a car would reach 99° in ten minutes, 114° in half an hour. It only gets worse. Far too many pets suffer through these experiences. We need to leave our pets at home when we’re shopping or visiting if we can’t take them in with us. They’re better off alone for an hour or two than they would be in that oven. (We would never even consider putting a beloved pet inside an oven and turning it on. The hot car has the same effect, only a slower one.)
Not only must we pet owners become conscious of our choices concerning our dogs, those of us who see a dog in a parked car (even on a 70° day, where car temperatures can reach 104° in 30 minutes,) must be vigilant about watching out for these helpless creatures. In small towns such as ours, finding the owner of the car should be pretty simple, and if the dog is panting and looking lethargic, the sooner the better.
Calling law enforcement officers may be necessary if the owner can’t be located. It is better to have them break someone’s car window than to do it personally, to avoid legal issues. However, one should use one’s judgment in case of emergency.
No dog should suffer such an agonizing death. I suppose if I were to walk away from one, not getting involved, I’d feel that I took part in the cruelty, I took part in killing that dog.
Pet owners love their pets. In all probability, they are unaware of just how rapidly that car heats up, or they wouldn’t even consider leaving them in the car. Education is key to saving lives, so share these statistics with your pet owner family and friends. Together, we can prevent unnecessary suffering and pet deaths.