Utah (ABC4) – Many people don’t realize leaving your pet in a hot car for even a short amount of time can cause organ damage and death.
And with warm weather approaching, it’s important to be informed about how to act if you see someone has left their animal in a hot vehicle.
“We treat animals in hot vehicles just like we treat kids in hot vehicles,” Sergeant Keith Horrocks with the Salt Lake City Police Department tells ABC4.
He says cars can get quite hot very fast, even when windows are left down. If people do notice an animal stuck in a vehicle on a warm day, he says they should attempt to find the owner of the vehicle so they can unlock it. However, if that doesn’t work, he urges them to call the department’s non-emergency line.
In the case where the animal has passed out or is suffering, he says to call 911. According to Sgt. Horrocks, calls about animals being left in vehicles come in as often as every few days during the summer.
“We get these calls quite often during the summer. They do come in regularly, more than they should. Animals are living things. Putting them in hot cars is irresponsible,” he states.
He says pet owners should know cars can get way too hot within a matter of a few minutes in the warm weather. Vehicles are essentially big glass domes, like a greenhouse, he explains, so they heat up quickly.
In fact, it doesn’t have to be too warm outside for the temperature inside a car to reach dangerous heights. According to humanesociety.org, on a 72 degree day, the temperature inside a car can reach 116 degrees in just an hour, while on an 80 degree day, the temperature can get up to 99 degrees in a car in just ten minutes.
And rolling down windows does little to affect the temperature inside a vehicle, the site states. A vehicle will trap heat even if it’s parked in the shade or has the windows rolled down.
According to the Humane Society of Utah, dogs in particular are prone to overheating since they control their body temperature through panting rather than sweating. Though dogs do have sweat glands in their feet, these don’t do much to control body temperature. For most pets, heat exhaustion occurs at 105 degrees, and at 110 degrees, irreversible damage can occur in an animal’s body, the organization’s site states.
Utah Human Society says signs that an animal is in danger include:
- drooling and salivating with thickening drool
- agitation and restlessness, such as pawing at the air
- bright red tongue
- dizziness and stumbling
- muscle tremors
Some states have Good Samaritan laws which allow individuals to legally break into another’s vehicle to save an animal in distress. However, Utah does not have any such law, according to the Utah Humane Society.
Visit utahhumane.org for more information about animals left in hot vehicles.