It’s officially spring, the time of year we start opening our windows and spending more time outdoors. As we enjoy the rising temperatures and the more than 70-degree weather forecasted for the next couple of days, the Seattle Animal Shelter is reminding pet owners to exercise good judgment and use common sense when it comes to protecting their pets.
As many homes in the Northwest aren’t equipped with air conditioning due to our normally moderate climate, people leave their windows wide open during warm weather. The fresh air is essential to you and your pets, but be aware of the enticement and danger an open, screenless window can pose for cats.
“Make sure your window screens are secure, especially on second floors and above,” said Seattle Animal Shelter Director Don Jordan. “Open, screenless windows are an invitation to tempt the old adage ‘curiosity killed the cat.’ They may be known for always landing on their feet, but those little paws are no match for the combination of hard ground and gravity when the fall begins six, or even two, stories up.”
Jordan also warned pet owners against leaving animals in vehicles.
“It’s not worth the risk. Cars in direct sunlight can reach fatal temperatures within just a few minutes,” he said. “Even on a 70-degree day, cars left in the sun can turn into lethal ovens, and, with the movement of the sun, cars originally left in the shade can soon be in direct sunlight.”
A Washington state law that went into effect last year makes it a violation just to leave an animal unattended in a vehicle or enclosed space, if the animal could be harmed or killed by exposure to excessive heat or cold, lack of ventilation or lack of water. Penalties under this law are in addition to potential animal cruelty charges. Jordan said that the shelter’s humane law enforcement officers responding to calls about animals left in hot cars will utilize all means necessary to access vehicles to remove the animals.
The Seattle Animal Shelter offers the following tips for protecting pets during hot weather:
- Never leave your animal tethered or kenneled in direct sunlight. Provide a shady area for retreat, such as a dog house, porch or shady tree, and always provide access to plenty of cool water.
- If you leave animals indoors, open the screened 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 vehicle. Animals do not perspire like humans; they cool themselves by panting. Vinyl, leather and even cloth seats in vehicles get hot under animals’ feet and prevent them from perspiring through their paws.
- If you must travel with your pet, carry water. If a trip requires you leave your pet in the car at any point, think about saving that for another day. It’s not worth the risk.
- 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.
If you see an animal that may be in need of assistance, or if you have questions, contact the Seattle Animal Shelter at 206-386-7387 (PETS). Information is also available online at http://www.seattleanimalshelter.org.