Hot weather preparedness for pets

Posted July 9, 2009 6:31 p.m. EDT

On a warm summer’s day it can take only 15 minutes for temperatures in your vehicle to rise above 110 degrees Fahrenheit. It has been proven that cracking the window, and/or running the air conditioner from home to the destination does not help.

In Wake County, North Carolina the Animal Control Ordinance includes the following in its definition of abuse: “Placing or confining an animal or allowing an animal to be placed or confined in a motor vehicle under such conditions or for such a period of time as to cause physical pain, suffering or death to the animal due to temperature, lack of food or drink, or such other conditions.”

So, what can you do to help? If you see a pet in a car, follow these suggestions:

  • Write down a description of the pet, the car, and the license plate number. Ask businesses to announce over a PA system that the guardian of the pet needs to return to the vehicle.
  • If the guardian of the pet is not located or does not return to the vehicle, and the pet is in distress, area animal control asks that you call 911. Provide the description of the pet, the car, and the license plate number and explain that there is a pet in a car that is in eminent danger and distress from heat. Dispatch will send an animal control officer or local law enforcement to the location.

Animal Control requests that you stay in the area to help them more easily identify the location of the animal. However, they ask that you refrain from engaging the owner. Often officers called out to help a distressed animal must first deal with altercations between guardians and concerned citizens. For your own safety and that of the pet, report the situation, be available for locating the animal, and avoid confrontation with the guardian.

Cancel the call if the person leaves before animal control can arrive.

In cases where the animal is in distress, do the following:

  • Learn the signs of heat exhaustion restlessness, excessive thirst, heavy panting, lethargy, lack of appetite, dark tongue, rapid pulse, fever, vomiting, glazed eyes, dizziness, or lack of coordination.
  • If the dog shows any of these symptoms, move them to shade or air conditioning right away.
  • Apply ice packs or cold towels to the head, neck, and chest or preferably immerse the animal in cool (not cold) water.
  • Try to get them to drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes.
  • Take them directly to a veterinarian.

Information provided by the SPCA of Wake County . For information on how to adopt a pet or to help the nonprofit, call 919-772-2326.