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Living with Your Dog

Dog Days: Locked car can be death zone for dogs on hot, sunny days

By Fernande Hastert Kuykendall & Bonnie Romano
Arizona Republic, Jun. 9, 2006

We recently witnessed a troubling situation in the parking lot of Grayhawk Plaza in Scottsdale, AZ - a small dog had been locked in a car with all of the windows rolled up.

Since a dog's normal body temperature is between 100 degrees F and 102 degrees F, it takes only minutes for a pet left in a vehicle to succumb to heatstroke and suffocation. Dogs do not sweat like humans. They cool themselves by panting and sweating through their paws, expelling heat out to regulate their body temperatures, causing an evaporatory reaction. If they have only overheated air to breathe, they can collapse, suffer brain damage and possibly die of heatstroke. It takes less than 15 minutes, locked in a parked car, for their body temperatures to climb to deadly levels. This can damage their nervous and cardiovascular systems, often leaving the animal comatose, dehydrated and at risk for permanent impairment or death.

Temperatures in a parked car can rise an astounding 34 degrees F per minute! On a 78-degree day, temperatures in a parked car in the shade can exceed 90 degrees and hit a scorching 160 degrees if parked in the sun! Even when the outside temperature is in the 60s, temperatures inside some vehicles can reach the danger zone on bright, sunny days.

If you see a dog in a vehicle and in distress, please take immediate action! This IS an emergency. Note the car's make, model and license plate, then go to the nearest stores and ask the manager to page the owner. You should also call the police, as they can usually respond much faster than animal control. The police have the capability & authority to enter the vehicle and rescue the pet. Do not be afraid to react immediately, the police will support you, as per Scottsdale Revised Code (SRC)4-2, and Arizona Revised Statute (ARS)12-2910-H.

Additional daze of summer days tips: Provide shade and water if your dog must stay outside for any length of time. If, while outside, your dog is in a yard with a pool, pool safety becomes a very important issue. Your pet should be taught where the pool steps are and how to swim to avoid the tragedy of pet drowning. Do not transport him or her in a pickup truck's bed. This is always dangerous, but the heat brings the added danger of burning the dog's feet on the hot metal. Furthermore, do not take your dog jogging, except on cooler mornings and evenings. By using common sense, you and your best friend can enjoy this summer and many more to come.

With special thanks to SPD's Officer Travis Kirby and K9 Officer Lex.

"One can measure the size and moral progress of a nation to how she treats her animals." Mahatma Gandhi.

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