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Dogs and parked cars don't mix, authorities warn

Humane society notes the best place for a dog during hot weather is at home

By: Victoria Paterson

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jul 09, 2014 06:00 am

STAY HOME – Animal control authorities say it's best to leave your dog at home these days if you plan to stop anywhere. Temperatures in a closed, parked vehicle can escalate very quickly, posing a serious threat to any animals that may be left inside.
STAY HOME – Animal control authorities say it's best to leave your dog at home these days if you plan to stop anywhere. Temperatures in a closed, parked vehicle can escalate very quickly, posing a serious threat to any animals that may be left inside.
FILE PHOTO/St. Albert Gazette

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As the mercury rises, consider leaving Fido at home instead of in your car.

Both representatives from the Edmonton Humane Society and the Alberta SPCA suggest leaving your pets, especially dogs, at home.

“We would obviously suggest that animals not be brought with their owners,” said peace officer B. Grey of the Edmonton Humane Society.

Once it’s above 15 C outside, it can start to get too hot for the beloved family pooch in a parked vehicle.

“Because they don’t sweat like a person does, they’re breathing out that hot air and then that’s what they’re breathing back in,” Grey said.

If you do have to leave your pet in the vehicle, authorities suggest leaving the vehicle running with an adult inside to monitor just in case the air conditioning stops working.

Roland Lines of the Alberta SPCA concurred, noting that dogs are not as good at regulating their temperatures as humans.

“The thing people have to keep in mind is that on a hot day it can reach 50 degrees centigrade in as little as 10 minutes inside a car and cracking the window and leaving water inside the car just won’t be enough for a dog,” Lines said.

Like Grey, Lines suggested the ideal situation is to leave the dog at home –preferably inside where it’s cool or, if outside, with lots of shade and water.

Grey offered some guidelines on what to look for if you’re concerned that a dog is overheating inside a vehicle.

Barking – and other signs of being alert – are not indications of physical distress, she said. Instead, barking is likely the dog performing one of its duties – defending territory.

“Actual physical distress for a dog would be excessive drooling, excessive panting, they might lose control of their bowels, when they’re really, really starting to suffer they might become lethargic, the eyes might be glazed over and then obviously they would become unresponsive as it gets worse,” Grey said.

“The tongue may even go purple, a really dark colour, those are physical signs that the animal’s suffering.”

If a dog is displaying those signs, she and Lines both suggest jotting down the licence plate number and having the owner paged, if it’s at a commercial venue.

If that’s not possible, within Edmonton the humane society can be called at 780-491-3517. Grey said the officers are checking their voicemails every 15 minutes but response could take a while depending on the response needed for other calls.

Outside of Edmonton, Lines said to call local police if paging doesn’t work or isn’t available.

“It is something that needs immediate response and our officers are just really unlikely to be able to get there that quickly,” he said.

In Edmonton the authorities are receiving multiple calls daily about animals left in vehicles, Grey said.

“This is a chargeable offence under the Animal Protection Act of Alberta. So fines go up to $20,000 if you are convicted and the lifetime prohibition of owning animals, and that’s the biggest thing we’re pushing for in the court system is that prohibition,” she said.

The humane society also has information on its website that people can print out and leave on vehicles if they feel comfortable doing so.

“It also lets them know people are watching,” Grey said.


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