SEATTLE – Even though Seattle has not experienced the extreme heat seen in other parts of the country, with the warm temperatures this week, and more forecast ahead, Seattle Animal Shelter has seen a dramatic spike in the number of calls about pets left in cars.
“When we get calls about animals in possible distress in cars, we have to respond to each one. Sometimes the car is gone by the time we get there, or the owner arrives while we’re there, or we have to monitor the animal to see if it goes into distress before the owner returns, or in the extreme, we have to enlist police to rescue an animal in distress. This can all be prevented if pet owners take precautions,” says Enforcement Supervisor Ann Graves.
She reminds pet owners that with the movement of the sun, cars originally left in the shade can soon be in direct sunlight. And even if the temperature is in the 70s, the temperature inside a car left in direct sunlight can reach fatal temperatures of 130 degrees or more in a matter of minutes.
If you must travel with your pet, Shelter Director Don 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 warm weather:
- Never leave your animal chained or penned up directly in sunlight. Provide a shady area for retreat, such as a dog house, porch or shady tree, and always provide cool water.
- If you leave animals indoors, open the windows, keep a fan running, provide plenty of water, and if possible, leave them in a cool location.
- Never leave dogs or cats unattended in a closed, locked car. Animals do not perspire like humans; they cool themselves by panting and vinyl seats in vehicles get hot under animals’ feet and prevent them from perspiring through their paws.
- 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.
- For birds, 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 Seattle Animal Shelter at (206) 386-PETS.
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