Every year I hammer home warnings about what happens to dogs left in hot cars, even for a few moments. Time and again, people underestimate just how hot it can get, and how fast, inside of parked car. Windows partly rolled down? No difference. Parked in the shade? Ditto.
The simple truth is that dogs die in parked vehicles. The only way around this? Never, ever, ever leave your dog in a vehicle, even if the weather only seems mildly warm to you.
From FPRC comes this note about a temperature study done by Stanford University:
Stanford University School of Medicine conducted a study to measure the temperature rise inside a parked car on sunny days with highs ranging from 72 to 96 degrees F. Their results showed that a car’s interior can heat up by an average of 40 degrees F within an hour, regardless of ambient temperature. Ambient temperature doesn’t matter – it’s whether it’s sunny out. Eighty percent of the temperature rise occurred within the first half-hour. Even on a relatively cool day, the temperature inside a parked car can quickly spike to life-threatening levels if the sun is out.
Further, the researchers noted that much like the sun warms a greenhouse in winter; it also warms a parked car on cool days. In both cases, the sun heats up a mass of air trapped under glass. Precautions such as cracking a window or running the air conditioner prior to parking the car were found to be inadequate.
This summer, a well known professional handler has already learned that lesson, the hard way.
From the St. Louis Dispatch:
Seven high-priced show dogs, including one of the top Akitas in the country, are dead after being left by their handler for several hours in a hot van in Jefferson County.
Police say Mary Wild, a 24-year-old woman who was caring for the dogs, left them in a cargo van early Monday and went to bed after returning from a dog show in Iowa.
Ms. Wild, who is by all accounts an excellent handler, had moved the dogs from their kennels in a garage to her van, in the belief that it would be cooler there with fans running.
She told police she put six electric fans in the van to keep the dogs cool. She also left a door open to the van and the van’s windows partly open, said Capt. Ralph Brown of the Jefferson County sheriff’s office. The van was apparently parked in the driveway, Brown said.
She left them in the van about 1 a.m. Monday and went inside the home to sleep. She told police that, three hours later, she went outside to check on the dogs. They were fine, she told police. Then, about 6:30 a.m., all eight dogs were in distress. She found five of the dogs breathing, but not responsive. The other three were clearly in distress, but could at least raise their heads.
She tried reviving the dogs, by hosing them down, then took them to a veterinarian in House Springs. Only one of the eight survived.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of handlers allowing dogs in their custody to die in this fashion, either. Every summer brings stories of dogs left in cars at shows who have succumbed to heat stroke. If we can’t get pet professionals to believe that there’s never a safe way to leave dogs in parked vehicles, what hope do we have in convincing the public?
Just like a pet owner should choose to leave their dogs at home in the summer when they run out to do errands, those of us who show dogs have to weigh the risks in attending outdoor shows. If it’s too hot, and we don’t have someplace 100% safe and cool to house our dogs, then we need to just skip that show. What points can possibly be worth the death of our dogs?