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What to do if you see a pet in a hot vehicle

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Parked cars are a death trap for animals, even in what may seem like mild temperatures. Countless numbers of animals die each year from being left in parked vehicles while their owners 'run errands' for even a few minutes.

Unable to sweat except through panting and the pads on their feet, a dog can experience heat stroke in as few as 15 minutes.

Even with windows cracked and a breeze blowing a parked vehicle becomes an oven in just a handful of minutes. On a 75 degree day the temperature inside a parked car becomes 100-120 degrees in about ten minutes. On a 85-90 degree day a vehicles’ interior will reach temperatures of 160-170 degrees in under ten minutes.

Animals left in vehicles may show signs of heat stroke by:

  • Excessive panting and thirst
  • Thick or foaming saliva
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Restlessness or pacing
  • Dark tongue
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive barking
  • Attempting to claw their way out of the vehicle

So what do you do if you see an animal in a parked car showing signs of distress?

  1. Immediately call authorities; police or local animal welfare organizations, giving them the location and the make, model, license plate number, and color of the vehicle that the animal is in. Tell them it is an emergency.
  2. Alert management at any nearby businesses and ask them to call for the owner of the vehicle over the intercom system.
  3. If authorities or the owner of the vehicle have not arrived in a reasonable amount or time, or the animal appears to be showing signs of distress, find a witness to back up your concern about the situation and enter the vehicle the best way you can. Remove the animal from the vehicle.
  4. Animals with signs of heat stroke should be immediately provided water, have cool wet towels applied to their bodies, or immersed in cool (not cold) water immediately. Cool towels should be applied to the groin, stomach, paws, and chest. Do not use ice or cold water as their body temperatures should be brought down gradually so as not to cause shock.
  5. Transport the animal to a veterinarian immediately for treatment and fluids. If unable to transport to a veterinarian, take the animal to an air conditioned location, if possible, and again call animal control or the police.
  6. Whatever the circumstance, stay with the animal until the situation has been resolved.

For more articles on animal welfare: http://www.examiner.com/animal-welfare-in-st-louis/gila-todd
Find Southeast Missouri Animal Welfare on Facebook: Southeast Missouri Animal Welfare Examiner

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