Even when the heat starts to decline as fall approaches, danger remains for pets left in vehicles, according to veterinarian Scott McCall of The Pet Hospital of Granbury.
McCall said that “above the 70-degree range” heat is a threat to pets left in enclosed vehicles, adding, “It depends on the amount of humidity, direct sunlight and other factors. There could be conditions year-round that might be a problem.”
Hood County Animal Control Sergeant Kelly McNab said she recently gave a man a verbal warning after seeing him leave a dog in his car with the windows rolled up.
McNab said the man told her that since it was overcast and only about 85 degrees outside that day, he thought it would do no harm.
“Everyone thinks they’re going to be gone for just a few minutes, but it only takes a few minutes for the dog to stroke out,” McNab said.
Animal Control office manager Sherri Rose said she saw a poodle mix left in a van in early August and confronted the owner.
“The poor dog had his feet up on the armrest with his nose stuck up to the window to breathe,” Rose said. “The dog was into distress panting, and I called dispatch. He said the windows were cracked, but it was about 98 degrees. Add 20 degrees to that, plus the fact that (the dog was) covered in fur. He didn’t care. It didn’t bother him one bit that his dog was about to pass out.”
If you see a pet in a parked car, call Hood County dispatch (non-emergency number is 817-579-3307), McNab said. Call 911 if you see a child in a parked car.
Common sense – and the law – also dictate that you should never leave a small child unattended in a vehicle.
In Texas, a child under age 7 may not be left unattended in a vehicle for any length of time, according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
Last year 33 children died in the U.S. because they were left in vehicles, according to AccuWeather.com.
Those types of calls are rare, Granbury Police Department Deputy Chief Alan Hines noted. However, many calls about animals left in vehicles are fielded by Animal Control.
Such dangerous scenarios play out every day as pet owners leave their dogs, cats and other animals in their car or pickup while they drop by the local store for “only a minute.”
It’s a careless act that can cause heat stroke, or even death, officials say. It can also result in a ticket for animal cruelty.
“It’s horrifying how hot it gets,” McNab said. “It’s the equivalent to putting on a fur coat and sitting in a car with the windows up. It is never a good idea to leave a dog in a car, period.”
Leaving the windows down a few inches does not adequately lower the temperature, according to tests.
One website (www.redrover.org) showed temperature test results of vehicles on hot days. One test indicated that even with four windows cracked open, on a day when the outside temperature reached 101, the inside of a test vehicle reached 114 degrees.
A vehicle with no windows cracked, with the outside temperature at 101, was 119 degrees.
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