Leaving your dog in a car during the heat of summer can be more than just harmful—it can be deadly.
On a hot day, a car can quickly become much hotter than the outside temperature. In fact, on a 90-degree day, the interior temperature of your car can reach over 160 degrees in less than 10 minutes.
And here in Ukiah, we have too many hot dogs. During these hot summer days, our 911 Call Center can receive as many as five calls a day about very unhappy, very hot dogs being left in cars.
An animal in these high heat conditions can sustain brain damage or even die from heatstroke in just 15 minutes. Dogs have a harder time in the heat, because they can only cool themselves by panting and sweating through their paws and nose.
Heatstroke symptoms for dogs include restlessness, excessive thirst, thick saliva, heavy painting, dark tongue, fever and vomiting. If a dog is experiencing these symptoms after being in a hot environment, it is important to get them into an air-conditioned vehicle or other cool place as soon as possible.
And it’s important to remember that even when it’s not that hot outside, leaving your dog in a car can still be dangerous.
To determine how dangerous a car can be for a dog, Stanford University studied temperatures of car interiors as compared to the ambient temperature (outside temperature). This study found that cars act like large ovens—even in the shade. With an outside temperature of 72 degrees, a car’s internal temperature will rocket to 116 degrees in only one hour. And surprisingly, the study found that cracking your windows does little to slow the oven effect within a car.
The hotter it is outside (shade or not), the more quickly a car’s internal temperatures can become devastating for a dog.
The website vetmedicine.about.com says if you find a dog in a car and you can find the car owner, please let the owner know how the heat can impact their pet. If you find a dog in a car in a parking lot and can’t locate an owner, please call 911 before you try to break the car window yourself. When you call us, our dispatchers will tell you how quickly we can respond. While you wait, it’s always a good idea to let stores near the parking lot know about the dog in danger with a description of the car; stores will often make an announcement to help find the owner of a pet in distress.
Here at the Ukiah Police Department, we are passionate about animal safety and protecting pets from harm. Now that our patrol cars are equipped with remote temperature measuring devices, once our officers arrive on the scene, they can use the devices to determine a car’s interior temperature. Remember, on warm summer days it can take less 15 minutes for temperatures in your car to rise above 110°F – temperatures that are deadly to animals.
The penal code is clear: anyone who "tortures, torments, deprives of necessary sustenance, drink, or shelter, cruelly beats, or cruelly kills any animal" can be charged with a felony. If convicted, the dog's owner could face up to three years in prison and a $20,000 fine. Please call us if you witness animal cruelty.
If you plan to travel with your pet and you need to go into an establishment that doesn’t allow pets, consider having someone in your party stay outside with your pet. If you’re alone, always shop in pet-friendly stores and use drive-through restaurants, if possible. You can find more tips on traveling with a dog at http://redrover.org/mydogiscool/.
Please safeguard your pets, and remind others of the dangers of a hot car—and hot dogs!
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.
By: Chris Dewey – Chief of Police