SEATTLE – Over the weekend, five pets – including one deceased – were rescued by Seattle Animal Shelter officers from hot cars. Now, with even hotter weather predicted, the shelter once again urges pet owners to protect their pets from heat.
Using its “Animobile,” the shelter will demonstrate the heating effect of enclosed vehicles. The van will be at the shelter for the remainder of the week. The “Animobile” will be outfitted with a large visible thermometer to demonstrate exactly how hot a vehicle can get.
“We may sound like a broken record, but after our officers rescued four dogs – one of whom died from heat exhaustion — and one cat from hot cars this weekend, we can’t say it often enough that pets should not be left in cars when temperatures are even in the 70s. And once again the forecast is calling for temperatures reaching 90 this week. We are sending out an urgent message to all pet owners to be especially careful to protect your pets,” says Don Jordan, director of the Seattle Animal Shelter.
In direct sunlight cars turn into lethal ovens, reaching fatal temperatures of 130 degrees or more within just a few minutes. Even dogs left locked in cars in the shade with the windows cracked on hot days are at risk of brain damage or death. Dogs must cool themselves through panting and their systems can’t handle high temperatures. If you must travel with your pet, Jordan advises carrying water for your pet, and avoiding trips where you have to leave the pet in the car. “It’s not worth the risk,” he says.
Jordan offers the following tips for protecting pets during hot weather:
- Never leave dogs or cats unattended in a closed, locked car. Temperatures can exceed 130 degrees in a matter of minutes. Animals do not perspire like humans; they cool themselves through their lungs by panting. Hot air can lead to brain damage or death.
· Also, be aware that vinyl seats in vehicles get hot under animals’ feet and prevent them from perspiring through their paws. Remember, with the movement of the sun, a vehicle originally parked in the shade may soon be in direct sunlight.
· Never leave your animal chained or penned up directly in sunlight. Provide a shady area where the animal can retreat, such as a dog house, porch or shady tree, and always provide cool water.
· If you must leave an animal indoors, open the windows, keep a fan running, provide plenty of water, and if possible, leave them in a cool location.
· Avoid overexerting your animal in hot weather. Exercise is fine when taken in moderation, but obesity, old age, underlying disease and previous bouts of heat stroke can predispose an animal to the condition.
· Take caution and place the bird’s cage away from direct sunlight during the intense heat of the afternoon.
· Provide water and fruits and vegetables with high moisture content.
Pet owners can be held criminally liable for committing cruelty to animals if a pet dies, or is found suffering from heat prostration. If you see an animal that may be in need of assistance or if you have questions, contact the Seattle Animal Shelter at (206) 386-PETS (7387).
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