Volunteer-led events spread the “My Dog Is Cool” message in 30 communities

SACRAMENTO, CA (May 1, 2013) – This Spring, volunteers with RedRover, a national nonprofit animal protection organization, will organize demonstrations in 30 North American communities  that aim to spread the message that dogs should not be left in cars on warm days.

Volunteers are setting up informational displays, distributing fliers and hanging posters at strategic locations within their communities as part of the My Dog Is Cool Action Day events. Some events will involve businesses, community organizations, law enforcement and other authorities, all joining together to raise awareness about this lifesaving issue.

A Brattleboro, Vermont, volunteer will dress up in a puppy costume and distribute information in the town’s largest municipal parking lot, where dogs are routinely found in hot cars. A Hermitage, Tennessee, volunteer is setting up dog cooling stations, prizes and an informational display at a large pet adoption event at a shopping center. One Chandler, Arizona, volunteer will set up a demonstration in a popular Home Depot parking lot with thermometers inside and outside the car, and talk with shoppers about heat safety. And a Denver, Colorado volunteer planned a series of events in her area, and also got her state legislators to declare May to be My Dog Is Cool Month in Colorado. For a complete list of Action Day locations, visit MyDogIsCool.com/Action-Day.

Already in 2013, several cases of dogs being left behind in hot cars have made the headlines. In April, a Virginia woman was charged with two felony counts of animal cruelty when her two dogs perished in a hot car while she shopped at a Walmart for about an hour, despite parking in a shaded area and leaving the windows cracked. A Massachusetts student was charged with cruelty to animals after he left his golden retriever in a car at Cape Cod Community College. Despite temperatures in the 70s outside, the temperature in the car was a sweltering 106, and the dog was showing signs of heat distress.

“Leaving a dog in the car while running errands, dining or visiting a tourist attraction can literally be a death sentence,” said RedRover President and CEO Nicole Forsyth. “As the heat inside a car quickly rises, dogs suffer irreversible organ damage and eventually death. The safe choice is to leave your dog in a cool house.”

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, with most of the rise happening in the first 15 to 30 minutes. 
  • 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 irreversible 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. Don’t gamble with your dog’s life.”

Upon seeing a dog in distress in a hot car, it is imperative to call the local animal control agency or police immediately.

To learn more about the dangers of leaving dogs in hot cars and to download educational materials to share with others, visit MyDogIsCool.com. Businesses are encouraged to download, print and post free signs available at the website to warn patrons about the dangers of leaving pets in hot cars.

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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