Editorial: Dogs Die In Hot Cars

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Bailey the dog doesn’t want to be left alone in a hot car, not even with the AC running.

While this shouldn’t be news to anyone, it’s worth reminding everyone who will listen that leaving a pet in a car is a dangerous and irresponsible thing to do.

But what if it’s not that hot out?

A 70-degree day sounds mild and ideal for spring, but inside a car, the temperature rises quickly. According to noheatstroke.org, after 10 minutes, it can reach 89 degrees F inside of a car. After 30 minutes, it can reach 104 degrees. After an hour, it can reach a stifling and deadly 113 degrees.

But what if I leave all of the windows cracked?

Leaving the windows cracked only slows down the inevitable. Veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward filmed himself locked in a car with the windows open 1-2 inches to demonstrate how ineffective cracking the windows is at keeping a car cool. He starts sweating buckets within minutes. Unlike humans, dogs don’t have sweat glands to aid in cooling the body, which makes them more susceptible to heatstroke.

But what if I’m only gone a few minutes?

It doesn’t take long for a car to overheat and you can’t plan for unforeseen circumstances. Any delay inside the store puts your dog at risk.

But what if I leave water for my pet in the car?

This kind gesture won’t do anything to prevent heatstroke.

But what if I leave the air conditioning running?

And risk the fan failing or the dog accidentally turning it off? It’s happened.

But the store doesn’t allow pets inside!

Then you should have left your pet at home or made some other arrangement. It is never OK to put your pet at risk for the sake of running errands.

What should I do if I see a dog left alone in a hot car?

Call 911 and wait for help to arrive. If you’re with someone else, send them into nearby businesses to notify management or security of the situation.

There is no excuse for leaving beloved pets alone in a vehicle for any amount of time. Spread this message far and wide and help prevent a tragedy.

—Kimberly Dijkstra

Agree? Disagree? We’d love to hear from you! Send a letter to the editor at smosco@antonmediagroup.com.

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Kimberly Dijkstra is the web editor for Anton Media Group, writer for Long Island Weekly and recipient of several Press Club of Long Island (PCLI) awards.

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