In the Keeping Your Dog Cool in the Summer Heat post, I addressed the risks our dogs face when exposed to extreme heat. Leaving a dog in a car during the summer is the leading cause of canine heat stroke. While most responsible dog advocates know the risks associated to leaving your dog in a hot car, it’s important we also know what to do if we witness a dog in a hot car.
First, it’s important to get informed. Research and understand the rules and laws in your area. While many areas still do not have laws regarding this issue, an increasing number of states now prohibit dogs from being left in hot cars. Some of these states have also begun providing immunity to civilians who take action to help dogs in great distress. If your area does not have any current laws against leaving animals in hot vehicles, reach out to your local government and find out what you can do to help establish these necessary laws.
If you do come across a dog in a hot car, the first thing you should do is take down the vehicles information. The make, model and license plate number can be very helpful when tracking down the owner of the car. It is important to stay with the car and keep an eye on the dog, watching for signs of distress.
Requesting nearby businesses to make an announcement in hopes of finding the car owner is a great way to alert them of the situation. Some dog owners don’t understand the risks associated with leaving them in a hot car, and will likely respond quickly when notified.
If you are unable to track down the owner of the car, it is necessary to call your local animal control or the non-emergency police line. After they are called it is still important to stay nearby the vehicle until they arrive. Dogs locked in hot cars are helpless and can easily become very distressed. Depending on your states laws, if they situation becomes urgent, you can take measures to remove the dog from the vehicle. However, be sure to study up on the local laws, as you could find yourself responsible for costs of damage done to the car.
Once the dog is out of the hot car, he’s not necessarily out of the woods. Excessive heat can take a great toll on dogs. In extreme cases, their organs may begin shutting down. It’s important that once the dog is free to get him into air conditioning. If you don’t have access to air conditioning, there are other ways to lower their body temperature. If you are still concerned about him, it never hurts to get him checked out by a veterinarian. They have the proper tools and knowledge to get their body temperature back down to a normal level, and to address any internal issues.
Leaving your dog in a hot car, even for a few minutes can cause them great distress. It only takes 10 minutes for your car to reach over 100° in even mild summer weather. Rolling down the windows is not enough to insure they are at a comfortable temperature. Summer is a great time to enjoy the outdoors with your dog, but remember, if you plan on stopping somewhere, please leave him at home.[/cs_text]