It only takes 10 minutes for a dog in a car to be in serious physical distress

A hot car is no place for an unaccompanied pet

West Shore RCMP and BC SPCA remind public to leave dogs at home rather than risk their lives

Meteorologists are expecting another scorcher of a summer, meaning another season of danger for our pets –  especially those furry friends who travel around with their owners in vehicles.

Despite the seemingly constant reminders not to leave pets in cars on hot days, many owners still haven’t received the message, based on the number of calls received each year by police.

West Shore RCMP say they have responded to 90 instances of dogs left in hot vehicles from 2012 to 2014, approximately 30 per summer.

“Each complaint we receive is investigated on a case-by-case basis,” said detachment spokesperson Const. Alex Berube. He couldn’t say generally what the repercussions are for owners who continue to endanger their pets’ lives in this way.

“We are lucky in that we have different resources in the (region) that can deal with this situation:  B.C. SPCA, CRD Animal Control and police,” he says, meaning more resources on the West Shore are available for this service than in some other municipalities.

The primary message they’re passing on to the public is not to bring your pet with you when you leave the house, if you’re planning on leaving it in a vehicle for any length of time.

An ambulance service in Australia recently conducted a study on a 29 C day. Inside a previously air-conditioned car with the windows up, the temperature went from 20 C to 44 C in just 10 minutes. Ten minutes later it had reached 60.2 C (140 F).

The Canadian Safety Council says children and pets’ core temperature rises three to five times more quickly than adults because of their size. Hyperthermia (heat stroke) occurs when a body’s core temperature reaches 40.5 C.

Since dogs cool themselves by panting, there’s no cooling taking place when the air around them is also hot, and they are therefore physically unable to regulate their body temperature. This can quickly lead to hyperthermia.

In the time it takes to pick up a few things for dinner at the grocery store, get through the line at the check-out and get back to your car, a dog left in that car could have already died an agonizing death.

If you insist on bringing your pet with you, CRD Animal Control senior bylaw officer Don Brown says to make sure you take some precautions.

“Panting and drinking water helps cool them,” he says. “If you travel with your dog this summer, remember to bring fresh water and a bowl.”

The B.C. SPCA asks anyone who spots an animal in distress in a vehicle to follow the following procedures:

Attempt to find the animal’s owner, possibly by asking nearby stores and shops to page the owner of the vehicle, if necessary. Place towels or clothing over the windows to increase shade levels.

If the windows are cracked, try to get water to the animal or use a fan to circulate air within the vehicle.

Call the Animal Cruelty Hotline at 1-855-622-7722 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. Police or CRD Animal Control should be contacts outside these hours.

“If the dog is up and moving around in the car,” says Marcie Moriarty, chief prevention and enforcement officer of B.C. SPCA, “we urge people to take proactive steps to try and determine the location of the owner, as this may be the fastest way of getting the dog some relief. However, tragedy can occur in less than 10 minutes, so if the animal is exhibiting signs of distress and an owner cannot be located, the authorities need to be called in.”

mdavies@goldstreamgazette.com

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