Sadly, we hear about people forgetting children or leaving their dogs in hot cars. I called the police about a car with two huskies in it. Fortunately the temperature was in the mid 60s but the sun was strong. I had been walking dogs and I was sweating in a long sleeve shirt and the dogs in the car looked uncomfortable and were panting. If the person had pulled up 10 feet the car would have been in the shade and the dogs would have been much more comfortable.
Oregon now has a law allowing people to break a window if children or dogs are in distress in a vehicle. There are rules to this law though before a window can be broken, there needs to be a reasonable belief that the child or pet is in danger. While researching the new Oregon law, I found the testimony of Kohana Clem, age 9, of Girl Scout Troop 10037 who made a short but effective statement. The following is a portion of it:
The rules are:
- See if the owner of the car is close by.
- If they are not, check to see if the doors are unlocked
- If it is not unlocked, first call the police to make sure you have permission to break open a window
- Only break one window
- Then stay until help arrives
Leave it to a kid to tell it in plain speak so we can understand it! The law used her rules but dressed it up in a lot of legalese.
Now that we have this law that allows us to legally help a distressed pet in a car, we need to make sure the pet is really in distress before opening doors or breaking a window. Kristine Willaman, DVM reported on the process of hyperthermia (overheating) which can be within minutes. She said, “Initially the pet will pant excessively and become restless. As the temperature increases and hyperthermia progresses, the pet may drool large amounts of saliva. In addition, you may notice the pet becoming weak or unsteady on his/her feet. The lips or tongue may turn blue/purple or bright red in color, due to inadequate oxygen.” Thankfully, I have never seen a dog in a car like this. Sheri Schlorman, DVM suggests knocking on the window, if the dog can’t lift his head, he is in distress. Importantly, she added, “If the dog can respond, then he is not in imminent danger. You can risk a dog bite if you reach in a car window and open the car door to check on a dog who thinks he needs to protect his territory.”
After you have knocked on the window and the dog is responding but he looks very hot. Try to find the owner first. If it’s at a store, take the license plate number with a description of the car and ask an employee to make an announcement. That may help the owner come out of their shopping daze.
To avoid having an embarrassing announcement on a loudspeaker or your window broken, don’t take your dogs out on very hot days. Sheri Schlorman, DVM added additional thoughts, “What is just as worrisome to me is seeing dogs in the back of pick-up truck with black bed liners or dogs walking on asphalt on 95 degree days. If it’s too hot for you to walk barefoot, then it’s too hot for your dog.”
Work on your dog’s socialization and training skills early in the day or take a drive to our local bank, Banner Bank, or Cascade Home Center. Both are welcoming to leashed, behaved dogs. If its really hot, give them a ride in the air conditioned car and hit the drive through at DQ, Hot Shots, Coffee Bean. Whatever you do, think it through so everyone stays cool.
Rock Nest Training & Pet Care offers dog training classes in an air conditioned facility, both private and group lessons. Please call at 541-895-3162 or visit www.rocknestpetcare.com for more information. Find us at www.facebook.com/rocknestpetcare/