Police crack down on pet owners leaving dogs in hot cars

SACRAMENTO, CA (June 13, 2012) – After a number of people across the U.S. have been charged with animal cruelty for leaving their dogs in hot cars, causing the pets severe distress and even death, RedRover, a national nonprofit animal protection organization, is imploring pet owners to leave their dogs at home while running errands or visiting businesses that do not allow pets. Enclosed cars can heat up to dangerous temperatures quickly, even when relatively mild outside, making even short trips dangerous for pets.

Earlier in June, a Buckley, Washington, man was charged with first degree animal cruelty after his dog, Nexus, died locked inside his truck outside Nolte State Park. The two-year-old Golden retriever’s body temperature had risen to above 108 degrees and was still hot to the touch when examined hours later after passing. According to the vet, Nexus must have suffered greatly while trapped in the vehicle.

“People often leave their dogs in the car while they shop or run errands, but doing so can literally be a death sentence for your pet,” said RedRover President and CEO Nicole Forsyth. “You might think you will be gone for ‘just a minute,’ but every second counts for a dog left in a hot car. If it’s hot outside, leave your dog at home.”

Forsyth offered five reasons why leaving a dog in a hot car can be deadly:

  • Dogs are especially vulnerable to heat-related illness because they can only cool off by panting and through the pads in their feet.
  • Even seemingly mild days are dangerous. In a Stanford University study, when it was 72 degrees outside, a car’s internal temperature climbed to 116 degrees within one hour.
  • Enclosed cars heat up quickly. In a study by San Francisco State University, when it was 80 degrees outside, the temperature inside a car rose to 99 degrees in 10 minutes and 109 degrees in 20 minutes.
  • A dog’s normal body temperature is between 101 to 102.5 degrees; a dog can only withstand a high body temperature for a short time before suffering nerve damage, heart problems, liver damage, brain damage or even death.
  • Studies show that cracking the windows has little effect on a vehicle’s internal temperature.

“People are under the misconception that dogs are tougher than humans are, that they can handle the heat,” Forsyth said. “But the reality is, they are more susceptible to high temperatures and depend on us to keep them safe.”

In Nexus’ case, a passer-by did call 911 for help at witnessing the dog’s distress; unfortunately it was too late. Upon seeing a dog in distress in a hot car, it is imperative to call the local animal control agency or police immediately. Signs of distress include:

  • Excessive panting and/or drooling
  • Increased heart rate
  • Trouble breathing
  • Disorientation
  • Collapse or loss of consciousness
  • Seizure
  • Respiratory arrest

To learn more about the dangers of leaving dogs in hot cars and to download educational materials to share with others, visit www.MyDogIsCool.com.

RedRover focuses on bringing animals out of crisis and strengthening the bond between people and animals through a variety of programs, including emergency sheltering, disaster relief services, financial assistance and education. RedRover’s My Dog is Cool Campaign is designed to get the word out to individuals and communities about the dangers of leaving dogs in hot cars through fliers, posters, and other educational materials as well as educate the media, general public, police, emergency workers and city officials about steps to take to prevent dogs from dying in hot cars.

MEDIA CONTACT: LEILI KHALESSI, 916.429.2457 or lkhalessi@redrover.org

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