Critter Corner: A Few Minutes in a Hot Car Can Kill a Dog
What to do if you see a dog left in a car.
Ohio is not one of the 14 states with laws on the books prohibiting inhumane confinement of animals in parked motor vehicle; but what do you do if you see an animal suffering? Break a window? Succumb to social pressure and walk past feeling guilty? There often is no simple solution, but before making a decision here are some other things to consider.
According to PETA "On a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can soar to between 100 to 120 degrees in just minutes, and on a 90-degree day, the interior temperature can reach as high as 160 degrees in less than 10 minutes. Animals can suffer brain damage or death from heatstroke in just 15 minutes."
People who take their dogs with them on quick trips are usually very attached to their animals and just don't realize that an errand to pick up dry cleaning or a trip through the 12 items-or-less line could cause brain damage or death. These people are not stereo-typical animal abusers, just misinformed. Dogs cool off by panting and minimally sweating through their paw pads. If a dog is hot you will see excessive panting, drooling, increased heart rate and trouble breathing. After that brain damage may set in with disorientation, collapse or loss of consciousness and seizure.
If you see a dog trapped in a hot car write down the make/model and license plate and time/ temperature. If possible have the people paged, and call the police or animal warden. Do not leave the area until the owners/police arrive. Number to have on hand are: Bath Police Department non-emergency at 330-666-3736 or Fairlawn police non-emergency 330-666-8871. For emergency situations call 911.
While you are waiting prepare what you are going to say to best help the animal. Do not lose your temper, but try to educate the misguided animal lover. If you have a phone with photo/ video capabilities take footage to show the police or owner if necessary.
While you are waiting coax the dog to fresh air, and let them drink cold water (never diet soda) from a bottle. This is not always possible, but will have less drastic repercussions. Before breaking a window to someone's car check how how the dog has been locked up and look for signs of increasing distress and write it down next to the first time you saw the animal. Don't let your sense of urgency alter your sense of time.
If there has been no response from police or warden here are some steps you might want to consider: Gather witnesses who will support your actions. Make sure everyone notes the facts: time, condition of the animal, your attempts to contact authorities and owner. A video or photos might also help. Take into consideration how you will contain the animal if he jumps, and be ready to take them in the shade and pour cool (not cold) water on them. Follow up with a call to the police.
Red Rover has a free down-loadable PDF file you can leave on a person's windshield as does the ASPCA. Red Rover also has a series of interesting animal links, including dogs trapped in a hot car situations. PETA has a pre-printed flyer if you don't want to print yourself- the suggest donation is $5.00 for 50 flyers.