This summer has brought record-breaking heat that has scorched much of Europe and North America. With that being the case, you’d think people would at the very least take a break from leaving their dogs in hot cars. But no, there are still more than enough people who can’t seem to walk and chew gum at the same time leaving their poor dogs to die in hot cars.
You really have to wonder what’s the matter with these people.
Feeling the Heat? Leave Your Dog at Home
As of 2017, Texas leads the nation when it comes to children dying in hot cars, the San Antonio Express-News reported. That’s according to noheatstroke.org, which has now found that as of July 18, 2018, 768 kids have died of vehicular heatstroke since 1998.
Unfortunately, no such statistics are kept on dogs and other pets who die in hot cars, the newspaper notes.
But what some people don’t seem to understand is that it can become blisteringly hot in a car within minutes. Even on a cool spring day, the newspaper notes, citing the American Veterinary Medical Association. If the temperatures are between 72 and 96 outside, the temperature inside your car can zoom up an additional 20 degrees in just 10 minutes. In an hour, it can rocket a total of 40 degrees.
According to Phys.org, a dog can die in a hot car in as little as six minutes.
What you need to know about heat and your dog:
If your dog’s internal body temperature rises above 41C (105.8F), he’s at risk of heatstroke, something that only 50 percent of dogs thus affected survive. Some breeds, like boxers, bulldogs, and other dogs with short faces are particularly susceptible to heatstroke, as are large dogs and those with long fur. But please note that all dogs can die from heatstroke.
A dog’s body tries to deal with overheating by speeding up the heart rate and opening up the capillaries as a way to dispel the heat. And since a dog has no sweat glands, it deals with this by panting so it can lose the heat through its mucous membranes. But if the heat continues to rise, the dog’s heart will begin failing and pump out less blood, and that means less heat is being carried away. Then the dog’s blood pressure drops, blood pools in vital organs, and the animal goes into shock.
If the dog’s internal body temperature rises to 44C (111.2), circulation via the bloodstream will cease, and kidney failure, lack of oxygen to the brain, and internal bleeding will be the likely result. Even if you are lucky enough to revive your dog at this point, he will very likely be brain-damaged. That can result in personality changes, problems with sensory perception, and cognitive problems.
Phys. org notes:
“So it’s not just a case of getting a bit too hot and not being able to cope. It’s total body breakdown.”
Tragically, there have been some notable incidents in which dogs died in the heat in July 2018. This includes one case where a young Great Dane died of heatstroke from being left in the car, in Juneau, Alaska. Granted this is one place people would not associate with heat, but the dog’s owner went home to eat lunch and left the car in full sunlight.
But the case that really grabbed national attention was the one in which a woman in Trussville, Alabama, whose dog died after she allegedly left it in the car for several hours, WesternMassNews reports.
The photos below document the efforts police and bystanders made to save the poor dog.
Bystanders tried to open the window to free the dog:
A police officer managed to shatter the window:
Officers try to revive the dog after rescuing it:
Kind bystanders try to shade the dog with a blanket:
Despite their brave efforts, the poor dog didn’t survive, and it’s owner Stephanie Shae Thomas, 34, has been charged with Aggravated Cruelty to Animals, and she faces a $25,000 bond.
What you can do if you see a dog in a hot car:
The very first step you should take is to call 911, the MotherNatureNetwork (MNN) reports. In several states, it’s illegal to leave a dog confined in a car in such dangerous conditions. And, in some states, there are laws that offer protection to anyone rescuing a dog from this potentially deadly situation. Some states have “good Samaritan” laws which specify that rescuers aren’t liable for damages to vehicles while rescuing a dog. This map gives you an overview of laws regarding hot cars from state to state.
According to the Humane Society of The United States, you should also:
- Write down the car’s make, model, and license plate number.
- Notify any nearby businesses, their managers, and security guards. Ask them to make an announcement so that the pet’s owner can be located.
Other ways you can help when the heat is on:
ASPCAPro notes you can download this poster to distribute to local pet owners.
Dogs give us so much, the very least we can do is help them when they are in trouble.
This is the video of police and bystanders trying to rescue Thomas’ dog. Please be aware that it is disturbing, but it’s a reminder of what happens when a dog is trapped in a hot car by a thoughtless owner.
Featured image by WeLoveAnimals