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Do you know which states have laws against leaving a dog in a hot car?

April 21, 2013 35 comments

oven_new1Even though it may not feel like it here in Minnesota, spring is coming, and with it comes warmer temperatures. Many of us already know that leaving a dog in a hot car is dangerous. We have all seen the stories that usually accompany this time a year… “Two dogs dead after being left in hot car“, “Police sergeant rescues dog locked in hot car“, “Police Are Cracking Down on Dumb Dog Owners in Heatwave.”

But did you know that in several states it is illegal to leave your dog in a car?  There are 14 states – Arizona, California, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia, that currently have statutes “that specifically prohibit leaving an animal in confined vehicle“.

The penalties range from monetary fines to being charged with a misdemeanor, and in some states, it even includes imprisonment. The Animal Legal and Historical Center website contains a list of the states with laws and what penalties apply. They even lay out what is allowed/not allowed in those states when it comes to rescuing an animal left in a car.

For instance, in Minnesota, the statute states:

“A peace officer, a humane agent, a dog warden, or a volunteer or professional member of a fire or rescue department may use reasonable force to enter a motor vehicle and remove a dog or cat which has been left in the vehicle in violation.

 A person removing a dog or a cat under this subdivision shall use reasonable means to contact the owner.

 If the person is unable to contact the owner, the person may take the dog or cat to an animal shelter.”

Don’t see your state on the list? That doesn’t mean there are no laws in your state. Many local city and county governments have ordinances covering this issue. Owners may want to know this information, not only for their own benefit, but also for those situations in which they see another owner’s dog in distress and don’t know what to do. You can read more on this issue here.

Just as a reminder on how hot a car can get, I am sharing this blog post by my friend by Julie at The Daily Dog Blog. She has a cool infographic that you can print out and share with your friends. I’m thinking I just may make a few copies and keep them in my car so I can hand them out when I see a dog left in a car.

DOG + HOT CAR = DEAD… Get It?

September 2, 2010 13 comments

oven_dog

Two recent news items in Minnesota make it clear that it bears repeating… Hot cars are no place for a dog. Windows cracked, windows open, sunroof open, shady spot, checking on dog occasionally – none of these will save your dog if you choose to leave it in a hot car.

I watched this on the evening news Tuesday night and was shocked, appalled, and… MAD. Here was a guy who left his four month old Akita in the car while he went to the state fair for 4 hours (in 90+ degree heat) and he was outraged that animal control confiscated the dog. Really?

Then there is our own Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Mark Dayton, who left his two black German Shepherds in his hot car for 40 minutes (in the shade) while he conducted business at the state capitol. The temp that day was in the 90’s and it was humid. Luckily, the dogs were okay. Sadly, the media wasted a real chance to educate people on the dangers of dogs in hot cars.

So I thought maybe if people understood what really happens to a dog when it is locked in a hot car they will change their ways. So here goes…If you leave your dog in a hot car, here is what will happen:

– First, your dog will develop hyperthermia. Hyperthermia occurs when your dog’s body temperature elevates above the generally accepted normal range (body temperatures above 103° F/39° C are abnormal) – like what occurs when you dog is left in a hot car.

-As your dog’s body temperature rises, he will begin to pant heavily and he will start to sweat through the pads of his feet This is his body’s attempt to get his core body temp back to a normal range (100-102.5°F).

If he is left to wait in your hot car:

– His body will then start to direct his blood to his core organs (guts, heart, lungs, liver, kidneys) and away from outside (brain, limbs, etc.) in an attempt to help him. At this point your dog is in heat stress. He is getting weak and possibly dizzy. He may start to vomit. His body is starting to go into shock.

If your dog remains in your hot car at this point, he will go into heat stroke:

– Now his internal organs are starting to cook. He may start having convulsions. He may also start jumping around the car as if he is happy. He is not. He is in a panic. This is his last ditch effort to save himself, because his body is starting to shut down.

– Lastly, fluid will fill his lungs causing him to have trouble breathing. He will start to gasp for air as his body shuts down.

– He is dead.

– Time all of this took to happen? 10 minutes. That’s it. 10 MINUTESin a hot car.

– When your dog goes into heat stroke, you are past the point of no return. There is very little a vet or anyone else can do to save him.

– Sadly, you could have saved him by not leaving him in a hot car. But, you didn’t. Now you not only have to live with the guilt of leaving your dog in your hot car, but also the knowledge of how your dog died. It was painful. It was lonely. It was unnecessary.

Please.

Don’t leave your dog in a hot car.

Ever.

10 minutes is not a long time.

Your decision may save your dog’s life.

For more information, go to My Dog Is Cool. This website has lots of good information and links to data demonstrating how quickly a car heats up whether you have the windows down or windows cracked open.

Share it with your friends. Maybe it will save one dog’s life.

Note: A personal thank you to Dr. Shawn Finch, D.V.M. and Dr. Daniel Beatty, D.V.M for their time and assistance in making sure the description of what happens in a hot car was medically accurate. I am indebted to you for your help!

Dogs: If they’re not cool, neither are you

May 30, 2010 6 comments

This past week I stopped at Petsmart to get a few things before heading home from my last dog walking appointment.

As I headed towards the store, I heard a distinct, but low, howl of a dog. “Oh no.” I thought, Please do not tell me someone left their dog in the car in 80 degree temperatures!” But sure enough, there sitting in a car (as it sat in the hot sun – no shade) was an elderly Beagle looking out the window for her mom or dad. I looked in to be sure she was okay. She seemed fine at the moment, but as I entered the store I kept eying the car and the dog through the store windows. Yes. All four windows were cracked, but despite what people think, this did not mean the dog was safe.

Immediately, I informed the clerk, who said she and her co-worker had noticed the dog as well, but had done nothing. I was so frustrated. How could someone leave a dog, especially an old one, in their car on a day that temperatures were so high? There’s so much information out there about the dangers of leaving a child or a pet in a hot car, and yet people continue to repeat the same mistakes.

I was in and out in a matter of minutes, and again stopped to check on the dog. She was now lying down, but did not appear to be in distress. Yet.

I wanted to leave. To go home and play with my own dogs, but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t leave this dog with the soulful eyes to sit in a hot car with no one there to help her if she started to go into distress. So I stood there. Watching. Waiting. I watched the dog. I watched the people going in and out of the grocery store, Petsmart and other stores. I even called the grocery store (next door to the Petsmart) to tell them to inform their customers that a dog was sitting in a hot car, in the sun, and to please come and get it. Nothing happened. No one came out.

I had already decided that at the 30 minute mark I would be calling the police. The dog had been in the car when I arrived and it was now 20 minutes later. How long had this dog been in the car? I kept monitoring the dog. Was she breathing abnormally? Was she showing signs of distress?

Finally, after about 25 minutes of waiting, out comes mom and daughter, the owners of this beautiful dog. I asked the woman if this was her dog and she replied “Yes”. I also asked her if she realized the danger she had put her dog in by leaving her in the car. Her response, “No. I thought it was cooler out today.” Then, I informed her that older dogs suffer from heat exhaustion much easier than younger dogs. I also told her she had been in the store for over 20 minutes (while she was grocery shopping), and she should check out the website “My Dog Is Cool” to better understand how hot a car can get in the sun… even with all four windows cracked open. I hope that this woman did just that.

My intent was not to shame her. Just from speaking with her, I could hear the concern in her voice and could see that she never intended to put her dog in harm’s way. But, that is exactly what she did.

– She thought it was a much cooler day (than the day before) – What may seem cool to us is not cool to a dog, especially in a car sitting in the sun.
– She left all four windows open for ventilation – Unfortunately, this does not guarantee you won’t kill your dog from heatstroke. This page on the My Dog Is Cool website shows how hot this lady’s car got in the time I was out there. Look at the 2nd diagram labeled “Day 2” (this is Day 2 of the experiment when all 4 windows of the car were left cracked open). With an outside temp of 84 degrees, the inside of the car was already 98 degrees, at 9:15 AM in the morning. When I came upon the Beagle it was already late afternoon and the temp was about the same. The car was likely hotter than that since it was being hit by the afternoon sun. Not a good situation for this dog.
– She was only gone for 30-40 minutes. That is long enough to kill a dog. No joke.

Look, I hate confronting people. I am uncomfortable with it in every way, but if no one says anything, then what happens to the dog? Or, the child? I know we’ve become a society of conflict-avoiders. We don’t want to piss anyone off or risk getting hit or attacked, but perhaps by getting involved and educating those around us, we can make a difference.

It’s so easy to think you’re only leaving your dog for just a few minutes, but those few minutes really can be the difference between life and death. I encourage you to get involved. Educate. Share this website with all your friends and family, especially those who have children or pets. The more we can do to educate people, the less dogs or children that will need to die from something so simple as a lack of knowledge.

Thanks.

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