Summer has reached it’s peak here in Montana, with temperatures in the 90s, even up here at 5500 feet! We took a trip to Missoula this past weekend, and despite the high temperatures and the action campaigns by every animal care/advocacy group I know of, I STILL saw dogs left in cars in the broad sunlight.
One of the great things about living in a place where people are so connected with their animals is that people tend to want to take their animals with them everywhere. Lucky dogs get taken on hikes, vacations, to float the river, or maybe they just come to town for a quick trip to the groomer, or a wellness visit at the vet. Unfortunately, that also means that our canine companions might suffer if we feel we the need to multi-task, running into the grocery store to grab some last minute grub to grill.
There’s just no reason to take the risk of leaving your dog in the car. To help us understand why, Dr. Ernie Ward recently posted this video about what it’s like to be locked in a vehicle for 30 minutes with the windows cracked.
If you’re skeptical, I suggest you subject yourself to the same conditions you expect your dog to endure, much like Dr. Ward did. If you need to find a fur coat, check your local thrift shop.
Alternatives to leaving your dog in the car while you run in:
– Train your dog to tie, then tie them outside in the shade (bonus points for providing water)!
– Ask if leashed pets are welcome inside! (Not likely for food/eating establishments, but worth a try everywhere else.
– Get a friend to walk them outside!
– Skip the errand, take your pet home, and come back later.
Other ways to help prevent heatstroke in pets:
– If you’re a shop owner, consider posting a sign that says “leashed pets welcome!” Increased business, free pets, and it feels good to know that you’re keeping pets cool.
– If you see a pet locked in a car, call the non-emergency number for your local police. I recently checked with my local police department to see if this was correct protocol, and they confirmed. This goes for children as well. Do not feel guilty about making the call – animals die of heatstroke in cars daily.
– Not willing to make a call? Print out the file below, cut it in half, and carry it with you to place under the windshield wipers of cars with dogs inside. If you choose this option, I suggest monitoring the vehicle until the owner returns to make sure that the situation doesn’t become serious.
If you decide to remove the dog from the vehicle because it is visibly distressed, make sure that you have witnesses that can confirm that you weren’t trying to steal their leftover wrappers, and for your safety.
Still not convinced that leaving dogs in the car is a bad idea? Maybe you’ve heard about children dying of hyperthermia when left in vehicles. If you haven’t, this article is enough to turn your stomach, and has some significant information about just how quickly cars act as greenhouses.
I promise the next blog post will be more fun.