The dangers of leaving your pet in a hot car - WRBL

The dangers of leaving your pet in a hot car

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You already know the dangers of leaving a child in a hot car. This summer already there have been deaths and close calls when parents, accidentally or not, left their kids in the car. But what about pets?

Leaving your furry friend in a hot car, even for a few minutes, can be very dangerous. Dogs and cats actually have a body temperature of 101.5, three degrees higher than humans. Couple that with the extra fur, heat can quickly become unbearable.

Northside Animal Hospital veterinarian Dr. Hank Hall says, "It's like wearing a sweater in the heat of the summertime, and of course that exacerbates the problem. It raises their normal 101.5 body temperature up quickly into the 105/106 range. Then you get your heat stroke, you can even have brain damage."

Lt. Warren Dunlap with Columbus Police Department's Special Victims Unit says they actually get more calls about people leaving their pets in the car than their children, but he says most don't have ill-intentions. "Some think, I'll crack the window where they can get a little breeze, but still even with the window cracked, if you'll research it, it shows that temperature can raise quite a bit inside those vehicles," he says.

While CPD officers usually just give a warning to the owners who are not aware of the dangers, you could get slapped with an Animal Cruelty charge for leaving a pet in the car. Under Columbus city ordinance, a pet owner faces up to a $1,000 fine, 90 days in jail, or both. Under Georgia state law, a person convicted of Aggravated Animal Cruelty could face one to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $15,000.

Lt. Dunlap says if you see a pet or a child in a hot car alone, call 911 immediately.

Dr. Hall says there are some things you should look for to know if your dog is overheated this summer. Panting is the first red flag. Also, look to see if your pet is not being very active and avoiding play.
They also may lack an appetite. Many times pets, much like humans, just are not hungry when they are too hot.

You can cool them off by putting cool water on their paws, under their arms and on their neck.

Dr. Hall also suggests giving your pets a summer trim to keep them cool.

Jessi Mitchell

Jessi joined the WRBL news team in October 2012 after working as a freelance production assistant for MTV Networks in Los Angeles.

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