You are heading home after taking Fido for a car ride. You realize you need to stop at the grocery store. Sure, the sun is shining, but it’s not very warm out. It’s only 75 degrees and you’ll only be a few minutes in the store, so there’s no harm in leaving your best pal in the car, right?
The correct answer is no. It takes only 10 minutes in a parked car with 75-degree temperatures for your car to become an oven inside with the temperature climbing to 100 degrees. Would you be safe and comfortable in a 100-degree confined space wearing a fur coat? Would you become anxious? Fido could succumb very easily to heatstroke and dehydration.
How about if I leave the windows cracked? The correct answer is no.
One study showed the average temperature rise of 3.4 degrees per five minutes in an enclosed car was only decreased to 3.1 degrees per five minutes by cracking the windows. Another study showed only a 2-degree difference at the end of the 90-minute study period between a fully enclosed vehicle and one with the windows cracked. While cracking the windows does have some effect on slowing down the temperature rise inside a car, that effect is minimal and it’s not enough to prevent the temperature inside a car from quickly rising to deadly levels.
How about if I leave the air conditioner on? The correct answer is no. Air-conditioner compressors and car engines fail and dogs knock into and inadvertently press and hit buttons.
A sad story was reported in the Fremont News Messenger in May by reporter Waverly Hart.
Kelly Askins, the Sandusky County dog warden, said one of her most haunting memories is from an incident in 2008. When a man with dementia went to the county fair, he left his dog in the vehicle. He walked around the fair for a few hours, all the while the dog was suffering in his car. When the man returned to his car, his dog had perished. There were bloody paw prints on the windows, vomit, scratch marks and more.
“There was not a single inch of that car that the dog hadn’t touched, trying to find a place to escape,” Askins said. “That case affected me more than anything I’ve ever seen. To this day, when I talk about it I get goosebumps.”
I don’t know about you, but thinking about the horrific ordeal this dog dealt with resulting in death has made me physically ill. I would never want to put any of my dogs who love me unconditionally in a situation such as this. Love your dog unconditionally. He depends on you to keep him safe.
Darla Gow is the community development director at the Huron County Humane Society (HCHS). She can be reached at [email protected] The animal abuse hot line is 419-663-7158. The HCHS is a private non-profit that operates on donations and receives no government funds.