Sunday, August 12, 2012

Don't Leave Me in Here! It's HOT!

The downside of working at a shelter in Florida is the extremely hot weather we have to deal with. I am always hydrating myself throughout the day and sneaking away to cool spots in the buildings to cool myself down. The cats are luckier than the dogs because their cages and rooms are indoors, although they have access to enclosed outside patios. Yesterday we had a pretty alarming situation arise in the middle of the day that gave me the perfect idea on what topic to write about today: leaving a pet in the car!

I was doing the daily afternoon feeding around 2:30pm when a couple ran up to me and were frantically pointing to a red car and trying to tell me something. It's really hard to hear when I'm anywhere near the kennels because of all the loud barking so I had to step outside to understand what they were saying. Lo and behold there's a cat in the backseat of the locked red car and it was panting excessively...someone had left the poor thing in there! I ran back to the kennels to try and see if anyone would claim the car and got nothing, so I ran to the cat building and go the same response. I then went to the clinic and STILL no one owned up to the car, so we put out a page on the intercom and finally someone came to the car. This girl, probably in her 20s, ran to the car and kept on saying "OH my God, I'm so sorry! I wasn't going to be long! I thought he would be ok!". A vet tech from the clinic removed the cat from the car rushed him back to the clinic for immediate medical attention. Apparently she had an appointment in the clinic and left the cat in the car (since she didn't bring a carrier) while she filled out paperwork. She obviously got an earful from everyone that day about how dangerous that stunt was and thankfully the cat was ok and got the attention it needed in time. Trust me, you don't want to be that person who leaves their animals (or children) in the car.
Dogs and cats do not have the ability to easily and efficiently regulate their body temperature like we do, they're covered in fur! We have sweat glands all over our body and all they can do it pant, which isn't going to cool them off very much.
Signs of heatstroke:

  • Panting
  • Staggering
  • Warm, dry skin
  • Dry tongue and gums
  • High fever
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Collapse
  • Ultimately it can lead to death :(

Take Action

If you ever find an animal or child left alone in the car, contact someone to help you IMMEDIATELY! It should be obvious that you shouldn't leave the scene until the situation is taken care of and they are safely removed from the car and given medical attention. It's important to not shock their body by giving them iced water or over cooling them afterwards. Cool wet towels, water, a fan, or spraying them down with cool water are some things you can give them after they get out of the car. 

Need more proof? I found this fantastic website called My Dog Is Cool that has a study done by the Animal Protection Institute that shows how hot a car can get in a variety of temperatures...very informative!

Most people say the same thing, "I'll only be gone for two minutes" or "I'll just crack open a window". Would you really want to risk the life of your pet and later be saying "I never thought anything bad would happen!"? It's dangerous to leave them in the car even if it's only for a couple of minutes; the car becomes an instant oven in hot weather, even if you think it's not that hot out. So just like you wouldn't leave a child in the car, don't leave your pet in there either! Their lives are in your hands and it's your job to ensure their either leave them at home or have them tag along with you :)

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