You’ve seen it before, someone left their dog in the car. Maybe it doesn’t seem like a hot day, or maybe it’s one of those days we’ve had recently where you don’t even want to think about going outside in the sun.  Regardless of how hot it may seem to you, the risks associated with leaving a pet in a car even for a short length of time are extremely dangerous.

It may sound like a no brainer but thousands of dogs die each year because their owners leave them in a car unaware of just how quickly their friend can start to suffer.  Even on a 70-degree day, the inside temperature of a car can reach 90-degrees in roughly 10 minutes. On those triple digit days it can reach as high as 116-degrees even faster, especially if it is humid. The chart below shows just how dangerous the summer heat can be.

toohotinfographic

 

Why would anyone do this to their dog or cat? We honestly don’t have an answer. We all get distracted or preoccupied by some sort of obligation but it doesn’t take more than a minute to put the lives of our animals first.  Despite posting about this every year, the sad reality is that it still happens but there are steps that you can take to help.

When you decide to brave the summer sun and head out to a store, the next time you are in a parking lot scan the cars in your immediate vicinity.  You can usually see through at least five or six cars on each side of you as well as the ones diagonal from your position. In the event that you do notice an animal in the car, walk up to the vehicle and try your best to gauge the situation. Did they leave the car running with the A.C. on? Is there a window cracked? Sometimes the owner will come back after a minute or two. Just make it a quick point to educate them on how dangerous leaving their pet in the car on a hot day can be. If the owner does not return in 4-5 minutes, walk to the customer service counter and have them make an announcement over the PA.

If it looks like the animal is suffering immediately, call animal control or the fire department. If they are far away or don’t think they will make it in time, find someone who is a witness to backup your story, if you are comfortable with removing the animal from the vehicle.  For this step, it is really important to know your local laws. Virginia doesn’t have any laws specifically protecting animals in hot cars, so only take this step understanding the risks associated with it.

Some cities have groups of volunteers that work on the weekends in shifts to look for animals being left inside of cars. Hopefully this is something Richmond will consider having one day. In my own personal travels around the city, I know I have witnessed this situation happen several times. I’ve talked with owners and in the end, they’ve felt terrible about what they did. Hopefully they’ve learned from the situation.

 

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