Opinion: FFS stop leaving your dog in the car

Jul 7 2017, 8:57 pm

Every summer police, veterinarians and animal welfare groups deliver the same message: “Don’t leave your dog in a hot car.”

And yet every single year, people do it. And dogs die. They are essentially baked alive.

Last week, Vancouver police had to smash a car window at Queen Elizabeth Park to rescue a panting and distressed dog that had been in a sweltering vehicle for upwards of 80 minutes.

Eighty minutes!

It was 25°C outside and the vehicle was in direct sunlight.

By the time officers arrived the dog was foaming at the mouth. You don’t need to be a vet to know that means an animal is suffering.

Thank you to the alert citizen who called 911 to report this dog left in a hot car – you saved him! https://t.co/eqKPA53zQY #NoHotPets #VPD pic.twitter.com/K8ED7pQGGt

Instead of apologizing for their bonehead decision, the pet owner had the nerve to defend their idiotic choice by telling the officers they were auto starting the car every 15 minutes and running the air conditioning. But the person who called 911 said they’d only seen the car come on twice in nearly an hour and a half.

Not. Good. Enough.

To drive home the point of how roasting the vehicle was – and presumably what an idiot the owner was being – officers asked the owner to sit in the car himself.

Even with the window now broken and fresh air coming in, they only made it THREE minutes before getting out.

Try it on yourself

So if you want to get a sense of how abusive it is to have a dog in the car right now, try it out yourself.

Sit in your car in the sun with the motor off and the windows up and see how long you’ll last.

I did it, and it was brutal. Within minutes, I was sweating. A few minutes more and I felt dizzy.

A BC vet replicated the test by videotaping himself in a parked car in his clinic’s parking lot. Within 30 minutes Adrian Walton was nearly catatonic. His speech was slurring, and he stumbled when he finally got out.

And we’re in Metro Vancouver, where the weather is downright temperate compared to other regions in BC, and the rest of Canada.

Vet Adrian Walton shows the temperature inside his car after several minutes of being parked.

Leaving the window cracked a few inches does little, if anything, to relieve the anguish your pet is feeling. Indeed The Scottish SPCA reports that an open window only cools the car by around 2°C.

How a pet will suffer if left in your car

On a 25°C day, the temperature inside your car can quickly soar to between 37°C and 48°C in just a few minutes.

On a day when it’s 32°C – which we could see during the summer – the interior temperature can reach 71°C.  And that can happen within 10 minutes – about the time it takes you to dash into a store to grab a few things, or fetch your dry cleaning.

Animals can sustain brain damage or even die from heatstroke in just 15 minutes.

Last year in the UK, a dog owner was charged criminally after his three beloved dogs essentially “slowly cooked to death” inside his vehicle while he was working out at his air conditioned gym.

The investigator on the case said the overheated pets “trapped and terrified” in the vehicle would have suffered tremendously both physically and emotionally, even though it was only 19°C outside.

The group PETA equates a hot car to a “deathtrap” for an animal, and it’s absolutely true.

Your dog can’t help itself to a drink of cold water, or crank the windows open. It can’t even sweat it out: Dogs can only cool themselves by panting and by sweating through their paw pads.

Ironically, the reason most pet owners leave their dogs in hot cars is because of their love and devotion to them. They WANT their little buddies to come with them to run errands, and don’t want to leave them at home by themselves because it’s “sad.”

But you know what’s sadder than leaving your dog at home in a nice cool home for a few hours?

Accidentally murdering your best friend.

So please, please, please, don’t leave your dog in the car when it’s hot out.

You wouldn’t put your pet into a frying pan – why on earth would you leave them in a hot car?

And if you see a dog trapped in a hot car, call 911.

Darcy MathesonDarcy Matheson

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