It seems that every day I read a story of a child, or pet found dead in a sweltering car. I apologize for being blunt, but this happens all over the country, and it is all the worse here in South Florida. I was on my way into the grocery store one day, and I saw a woman close her car door, and I noticed the dog at the window. I approached her, and explained to her that she could go to jail, and the dog would be dead by the time she came out. She flustered and sputtered that she was going in for a minute, I said take the dog with you (it was a small breed) or take it home. She immediately went back and got her pooch.
Most stores will turn a blind eye to small dogs in owners arms, or a stroller. She honestly didn’t think she was doing anything wrong, I explained to her nicely that the consequences are heartbreaking. She thanked me, and hopefully she learned something new. But I really think she knew I wasn’t going to leave the issue, or allow the dog to be put at risk. I would have called the police, as should anyone who witnesses an animal or child in an unattended vehicle.
I also witnessed a mother who happened to close her front car door, to open the back door, to get her baby out of the car-seat. This model car had its own locking system and all the doors automatically locked. She couldn’t get to her baby. She was frantic, couldn’t speak English and was scared to death. I comforted her, and knew the baby would be alright. The police and rescue arrived, and were able to open the door within minutes. This is considered a life threatening emergency. Everyone cried for this mother, who was able to tell us she would never drive that car again, and was turning it in. This is an accident, the mother did nothing wrong, but things happen. Think first, slow down, always leave one door open while removing a child from her seat.
People have grown up their whole lives letting the dog and kids stay in the car with the window open, times have changed, and so has the climate. The heat can kill you and your pets quickly, without many symptoms and quicker than you may think.
The temperature inside your vehicle can rise almost 20º F in just 10 minutes. In 20 minutes, it can rise almost 30º F…and the longer you wait, the higher it goes. At 60 minutes, the temperature in your vehicle can be more than 40 degrees higher than the outside temperature. Your vehicle can quickly reach a temperature that puts your pet at risk of serious illness and even death, even on a day that doesn’t seem hot to you. And cracking the windows makes no difference.
Take a few steps to prevent tragedies:
- Slow down
- Over exerting can overheat your body, and your pets as well. Heatstroke can occur quickly.
- Put something in the back seat that you must have, so you have to go to the backseat to get it – purse, shopping bags, etc. and you will see, and remember your pet or child.
- Always keep drinking water in the car, if you should get stuck you, or your pet won’t dehydrate.
- For a child reminder, put one of their toys on top of your purse or briefcase in the front seat to trigger your memory.
- Leave your dog at home unless necessary.
Watch your dog for signs of heatstroke:
- If your dog is panting, has a staring or anxious expression, does not obey commands, has warm, dry skin, a high fever, and a rapid heartbeat or is vomiting, lower her body temperature quickly with cool water, either by immersion, or by spraying thoroughly with a garden hose.
Call your veterinarian immediately.
Bottom line is we are responsible for our actions, either by accident or intentional. We all must think ahead of what the consequences will be for these actions, and how will we live with ourselves if this could have been prevented. There a many sites and safety tips for traveling with dogs/pets.
Let’s just pay better attention to the moment, check and double check your cars, homes with pools, lakes etc., for potential dangers. Be responsible.
And once again, never leave any living thing in the car, not for a minute, not for a second, not with the windows open, not ever.
Original Post Examiner