The Dangers of Leaving Your Dog in the Car
Have you ever tried sitting in a car on a warm day without AC? Or thought about running into a store while your dog waits in the car? Think again! Even if it may be a 5-minute run into the grocery store, be sure to bring your dog with you, or leave him at home. Cars heat up quickly, and can be fatal for a dog.
When you turn your car off in the sun, your car essentially becomes an oven. On a 75-degree day, your car can reach 100 degrees inside in just 10 minutes! On an 85-degree day, your car can reach 90 degrees inside in just 5 minutes! Now, imagine your dog having to sit in that “oven” with no escape.
For some people, a quick trip into the store may turn into an unforeseen long line or browsing multiple stores. No one is intentionally harming his or her dog, but if you get caught up elsewhere, your dog may be suffering.
Understanding the Situation
Unlike humans who regulate body temperature by sweating, dogs pant. If they’re hot and alone in a car, they might begin to get anxious, scared and panic causing heightened blood pressure. A dog’s normal body temperature is around 101-102.5 degrees F. When trapped in a hot car, a dog cannot cool himself off quick enough, and when his body exceeds 103 degrees he will start to show signs of heatstroke. According to PETA, dogs can sustain brain damage or even die from high temperatures in just 15 minutes. Dogs can also experience heatstroke, regardless of age. Heatstroke symptoms include, restlessness and discomfort, disorientation, excessive panting and drooling, and have trouble breathing. If your dog was exposed to extreme heat and exhibit these symptoms, bring him to a veterinarian or pet hospital immediately.
Currently, it is illegal in 20 states to leave an animal confined in a vehicle when it endangers its life. If you see a dog trapped in a hot car, there a few steps you can take. First, record the car’s plate information and have the closest stores or businesses page for this person, so they can get his/her dog out of the car. If you find that to be unsuccessful and the dog is in distress or has been left alone for more than a few minutes, you can call authorities. Keep an eye on the dog until its owner or authorities arrive. If you think the situation is too extreme and the dog has been left in there far too long, try to open the car or break a window. This is the very last resort and should be considered immensely as laws vary. If you plan to break a window, make sure there are other witnesses around you, so they can corroborate your story about the severity of the situation.
Fines vary from state to state on the severity of leaving your dog in a hot car. Most states limit penalties to misdemeanors or civil fines/infractions, even for repeat offenders. For example, New Hampshire stipulates a felony for a second or subsequent offense whereas, Maine nor South Dakota provide for a penalty for the matter. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, hundreds of pets die each year from heat exhaustion after being left in a vehicle. No errand or trip is worth risking your dog’s health or life over. It’s best to leave your pet at home.
If you need to step out of the car on a hot day, take your pup with you or leave him in the car with another person and the AC running. Remember to give him cool water and bathroom breaks during these hot-month car trips.
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