Bonnie the Golden Retriever waits in the parking lot of Borders Books Music & Cafe for her owner Todd Neel in June 2006.
Bonnie the Golden Retriever waits in the parking lot of Borders Books Music & Cafe for her owner Todd Neel in June 2006. "Shade, air and water, are the rules," said Neel, of Coeur d'Alene about keeping your dog safe during long car rides. Bonnie was parked in the shade with all of the windows slightly open. (The Spokesman-Review)

Agencies warn of leaving pets in hot cars

Animal welfare agencies are reminding pet owners that dehydration, heat stroke and sunburn are very real threats to dogs and cats this time of year.

The Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service said that it is receiving repeated complaints about pet owners leaving animals in hot cars.

Nancy Hill, director of SCRAPS, said her agency has received 22 complaints over the past week.

“Even leaving a pet in a vehicle for a few minutes with the windows cracked is not safe as moderately warm temperatures outside can quickly lead to deadly temperatures inside a closed car,” she said in a news release.

Dogs in particular are vulnerable because their bodies get rid of excess heat mainly through panting. Short-nosed breeds or flat-faced animals also are vulnerable because they cannot pant as efficiently as long-snouted pets. Older animals and those that are overweight or have chronic ailments are susceptible to heat problems.

Vulnerable pets should be kept in air conditioned or cooler locations.

SCRAPS warns against leaving a pet inside of a car during fair weather. Even if the outdoor air is 70 degrees, a closed vehicle can reach 100 degrees. It’s better to leave pets at home this time of year.

A Stanford University study shows a car’s internal temperature will rise to 116 degrees within an hour even when the outdoor temperature is a relatively cool 72, Hill said.

Violators can be cited for misdemeanor confinement of a pet in an unsafe manner for leaving a pet in a hot car.

A pet owner charged with felony animal cruelty for leaving a dog inside a vehicle for two hours in late June, which caused the dog’s death, has pleaded guilty to second-degree animal cruelty and transporting or confining an animal in an unsafe manner. Charles M. Eschenbacher, 31, has served 12 days in jail and received 24 months of probation along with $1,256 restitution, according to court records.

Heat stroke can occur when an animal’s body temperature reaches 104 degrees, which is 3 degrees above normal.

Signs of heat stroke include high body temperature, excessive panting, difficulty breathing, drooling, weakness, staggering, collapse, seizure, bloody diarrhea, vomiting and coma.

If heat stroke is suspected, seek veterinary attention and get the pet into the shade, then wet the animal with cool water, not ice, and provide water. On the way to the vet, make sure the windows in the vehicle are open or the air conditioner is running.

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