FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 22, 2015
Seattle animal lovers will be happy to learn that a new law protecting pets left in hot cars goes into effect on Friday, July 24 in Washington State. It will now be a class two civil infraction "to leave or confine any animal unattended in an enclosed vehicle or confined space if the animal could be harmed or killed by exposure to excessive heat, cold, lack of ventilation, or lack of necessary water." A person could additionally be convicted of animal cruelty.
This law gives police and animal control officers the authority to free an animal (and be protected from liability resulting from property damage) under any means reasonable to protect the health and safety of an animal they reasonably believe is suffering or is likely to suffer harm.
“Leaving a pet in a closed, hot vehicle could result in a broken car window, distressed or dead animal, veterinary bills, a fine, and even a criminal conviction,” said legal consultant Paul Sullivan, in a blog post on MRSC Local Government Success,
Seattle Humane reminds owners this can happen on a seemingly mild summer day in the Puget Sound. According to Senior Staff Veterinarian Dr. Nick Urbanek, “Even at 70 degrees, the interior of a car can rise to 160 degrees in less than five minutes. Parking in the shade with the windows cracked can still be dangerous on hot days,” he adds.
Protect food pads
Dr. Urbanek explains that foot pads contain sweat glands (to keep the animal cool) and the feet are particularly vulnerable to hot surfaces. Sidewalks, pavement, sand, and especially black asphalt can reach blistering temperatures in direct sunlight and cause nasty burns on your pet’s feet.
Signs of burned foot pads include:
• Limping or refusing to walk
• Foot pads appearing darker in color than usual
• Raw, red or blistered foot pads
• Licking or chewing on the feet
Dr. Urbanek urges owners to take preventative measures and protect their pet’s feet by walking earlier in the day and choosing grassy paths or shady areas. Water is refreshing but tender foot pads softened from prolonged water exposure can burn more easily. Dog owners should take extra care to protect dogs’ feet from hot surfaces after water play.
Prevent heat stroke
A dog’s normal body temperature ranges from 101 to 102.5 degrees. Dogs can withstand a body temperature of 107 to 108 degrees for only a very short period of time before suffering brain damage — or even death.
“A pet with a shorter nose, like a Persian cat, a Pug or a Bulldog, is more susceptible to heatstroke than breeds with longer noses,” says Dr. Urbanek.
Owners should always error on the side of caution. “If you suspect that your pet has suffered from a heat stroke, seek veterinary attention immediately,” Urbanek urges.
“Use cool, not iced, water to cool down your pet. Very cold water will cause constriction of the blood vessels and impede cooling. Even if your animal appears cooled, do not assume everything is fine. Internal organs such as liver, kidneys, and the brain are affected by elevated body temperatures and blood tests and a veterinary examination are needed to assess this.”
Signs of heat stroke include:
• Heavy panting
• Excessive drooling
• Increased body temperature
• Reddened gums or tongue
• Rapid heartbeat
• Vomiting and diarrhea
NFL player simulates danger
The topic of dogs in hot cars was taken up by Arizona Cardinals safety Tyron Mathieu in a recent Public Service Announcement. Mathieu sweated it out as long as he could in a car parked in the sun to demonstrate how quickly your pet can be in danger. After eight minutes – a shorter time than most people use to run errands – Mathieu stumbled from the car, woozy from the heat.
"I seriously couldn't imagine leaving my dog in the car like this," Mathieu said.