Thursday, July 28, 2011

A NAFA friend and I went to Walmart Sunday afternoon to pick up a prescription that was ready. When she parked the car, she left the motor and the air conditioning running for me. I am a 6 lb “Dorkie” named Ella and I go everywhere with her. So she has to make sure that I am safe.

However, two cars over I noticed a car with a Terrier in it. The window was cracked about a half inch but neither the air conditioning was on nor was the car running. My NAFA friend was inside Walmart only 8 minutes and when she came out to find the dog was still locked inside the hot car, the dog was panting and drooling. I could see the seat was wet where the dog had been panting so hard.

You may have found yourself in my situation before. Many pet parents believe that cracking a window is enough to keep their dogs cool in the car while they make a quick pit stop—but they couldn’t be more wrong. "Automobile temperatures can very quickly rise to dangerous levels; the average temperature increase in a parked car is 40 degrees, and the majority of this increase occurs in the first 15 to 30 minutes," says NAFA’s veterinarian, Dr. Jack Jones. According to statistics from the ASPCA, when it’s 90 degrees outside, a car will be a staggering 125 degrees in 20 to 30 minutes!

Worse still, dogs can’t cool themselves down as easily as people, and once they overheat, they can suffer extensive organ damage or die. Luckily, for this dog the NAFA volunteer made all the right moves and the dog survived.

Follow her lead by taking these simple steps.

Step 1: Try to Locate the Pet Parent
The Terrier’s people were nowhere in sight, so she went inside and customer service tried to find the family through the loudspeaker. (You can ask most stores to do this.) No one came to the car.

Step 2: Get Involved
I waited patiently in my truck with cool air, while I watched and worried about the Terrier in the other car. The owners of the car and pet could not be found. We then quickly called the police (normally we would have called animal control but it was Sunday). It had been nearly 20 minutes since I first noticed the dog. A very nice Jonesboro police officer arrived very quickly and used a rod to open the door.

Step 3: Cool the Animal Slowly
When we pulled the Terrier from the steamy vehicle she was lethargic and ill. We moved her into the garden area in the shade and wet a tshirt to lay over her. We applied cool (not cold) water to the pads of her feet and allowed her to slowly lick water from a small dish. Within a few minutes she began to feel better. Meanwhile the police officer ran the plates, got the name of the owner and went back inside the store to have them paged.

Step 4: Get Veterinarian Help

Once the Terrier seemed stable, we discussed with the police taking the dog to a veterinarian. While the NAFA volunteer was on the phone with an emergency vet, the owners arrived. They found the police officer writing them a ticket and a NAFA abuse investigator caring for their dog. The owners agreed to take the dog to their veterinarian and provide the police and NAFA with proof of the visit. Luckily the Terrier named “Spanky” suffered no long term effects

Fourteen states (AZ, CA, IL, ME, MD, MN, NV, NH, NJ, NY, ND, SD, VT, and WV but not Arkansas) have enacted specific laws that protect dogs in hot or extremely cold cars, as have many municipalities—but even in places lacking such a law, leaving an animal in a hot car constitutes cruelty.

Step 5: Educate the Public / Carry Hot Dog Cards
Pets are counting on people like you to save their lives. NAFA and the police rescued Spanky, the Terrier just in time, and she made a full recovery! Remember what you should do and tell your family, friends and neighbors how to handle this situation. NAFA provides free hazard cards to put on the windows of cars where animals are left if it is not a life and death situation for the animal. NAFA also provides free handouts on how to best work with an animal suffering from heat stroke. If you would like any of this information email or see us any Saturday at Petco from 1 p.m. - 3:45 p.m. for the handout or cards to carry in your vehicle.

Step 6: Share Your Story
If you have had an incident where you have seen or helped rescue an animal from a hot or cold car, please post your story to our facebook page ( or email NAFA is hoping to get the city of Jonesboro to pass a specific ordinance providing rescue provisions and penalties for animals in vehicles (similar to a California law) …

California Law:
It shall be unlawful to leave or confine an animal in any unattended motor vehicle under conditions that endanger the health or well-being of an animal due to heat, cold, lack of adequate ventilation, or lack of food or water, or other circumstances that could reasonably be expected to cause suffering, disability, or death to the animal. Penalty - First conviction: fine not exceeding $100 per animal. If the animal suffers great bodily injury, a fine not exceeding $500, imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding 6 months, or by both. Any subsequent violation of this section, regardless of injury to the animal, punishable by a fine not exceeding $1,000, imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding six months, or by both. Rescue Provisions - A law enforcement officer, humane agent or animal control officer may take all steps that are reasonably necessary to remove an animal from a motor vehicle if the animal's safety, health or well-being appears to be in immediate danger. Must leave written notice bearing the officer's or agent's name and office and the address of the location where the animal may be claimed.

Please keep your pets safe from the extreme summer heat. Make sure they have shade and fresh cool water when outside. Thanks for reading my story!

Till Next Time,