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Don't Leave Your Dog in a Hot Car

Keep your eyes and ears open. You may save a life.

It Has - It Does - and It Will.

We've all seen it. At least if you ever go to any store with a parking lot - walked down any street - you've seen it. A dog sitting in a hot car. Yes, the windows maybe cracked so it should be OK.  No, it's not OK. It could mean life or death to the pet even with the windows cracked.   

You've heard it.... a barking dog as you get out of or into your car, come out of a store, or while taking a walk down the street. Do you keep walking? It's none of your business - the owner should be out soon - right?   Perhaps not.   

Time can get away from us.  We get distracted on our "quick errand" and pretty soon quite a bit of time has gone by. In the meantime, the pet is in the car suffering.    I say suffering because a hot vehicle can kill a pet.    It kills children and our pets are also potential victims. To make matters worse - our pets are always wearing their coats.  

What to do?  If I see or hear a dog in a vehicle and the day is over 70 degrees, I check it out.  Now, I don't break in - or open any doors - or cause a scene.    I do, however, leave a piece of paper under the windshield wiper that says - "Please leave your pet home.    It's too hot in the car.    Thank you".    I jot down a brief description of the car, dog, and of course the license plate number.    Then I immediately go to the stores Customer Service counter and ask them to please page the owner of this vehicle.    There is a dog in the car and it's too warm for it to be left there.   

Pets in cars parked along city streets can make it more difficult to track down an owner.  In this case, call the police and then wait.  Be upfront and give your name and location.  This is not the time to disappear with that wonderful "anonymous message".  This is serious and you need to be of assistance.    

If you think an animal is in imminent danger of heat stroke, call the Police in addition to contacting Customer Service.  Here again, wait for Law Enforcement to arrive.  If you are concerned about an angry owner returning before the Police arrive, wait at a safe distance.  Stay safe. It doesn't help at all if you get into a scuffle in the process of trying to do something positive.  

The same concerns apply to pets in any vehicle at any beach, park, sporting event, eating establishment etc. And - don't forget to notice those dogs tied out or kenneled without shade.   They too may need your assistance.  Call Law Enforcement - make a report.   

You don’t have to be a Veterinarian to know when an animal needs help. Just use common sense.  Try not to over react or under react.  Stand up for those who cannot speak.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

linda June 10, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Thank you for your blog. It saddens me we have to remind people, but is a reality so I agree we must be an advocate for animals we see in danger.
Harvey Frykman June 10, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Let's get real about the "danger" to pets in a car here. My dog is a very important part our family, and I would never put him in any danger in a car. But for someone to say that if the temperature is over 70 your pet is in harms way; well this is absurd. I often have our dog in the car and then run into a store for 5 minutes. I do more than "crack the windows". I open all of them wide enough for him to stick his entire head out the windows and enjoy the fresh air with the breeze in his face. And I try to find a shady spot to park. I do believe that often it is cooler in a car with the windows open than to leave my dog in the house where it often is warmer than in the parked car with its windows open. Just trying to keep it real folks. There is no heat danger to a healthy adult dog in a car with four windows open wide enough to stick his head out the window. I often wait for my wife for 45 minutes sitting in that same car in the same conditions with my pooch, and neither my dog nor I have ever suffered any ill effects whatsoever. But I would not sit in that car in the sun even in December with the windows rolled up tight.
Scott Fagerstrom June 11, 2012 at 01:00 AM
Shirley: This is great -- so far as it goes. But what happens if the animal is in imminent danger of heat stroke and law enforcement can't get there in time? Surely the life of the animal is more important than the cost of a replacement window! What does the law say our rights and responsibilities are in this case (which happens a lot)?
Cathy Dyball June 11, 2012 at 01:21 PM
Thank you, Shirley, for the reminder for pet owners who leave their pets in vehicles.
Loving Parent July 16, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Stay with the car until the police arrive. DO NOT put yourself in danger of a lawsuit & jail by busting open the car window. Do NOT open the car door ... the pet may bolt out and be hit by a passing car. In Minnesota, only officers (humane, police, fire, etc.) may legally open the car or break the window. It is up to you to decide whether you are going to break the State's law, and risk legal, criminal & financial charges. If it were me, I would call 911, animal control, the fire department, mall/store security, etc. ... every 5 minutes ... until the authorities arrived. (Keep the numbers in your cell phone.) For more info, a video, and a copy of the MN Statue on animals in hot/cold cars, see http://agcpetservices.blogspot.com/2012/07/hot-cars-kill-pets.html

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