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June 3, 2014 > Ohlone Humane Society column: Trapped!

Ohlone Humane Society column: Trapped!

By Nancy Lyon

ItÕs just June and already weÕve had some sizzling days with more to come. Most of us can find ways to cool off and be reasonably comfortable, but thatÕs not always the case if you are in a situation that has no access to shade or cooling water to stay hydrated; where it can be life threatening and youÕre in a position where you canÕt help yourself. Too often we hear of tragedies where helpless young children and animals are left alone in vehicles as temperatures raise to unbearable degrees and a horrible death ensues.

I can speak from a personal experience a few summers ago when my husband and I stopped at a commercial rock yard on a warm afternoon. The windows were up and normally I could open the windows or door to get out if the car warmed up too much, but as he walked away the automatic door lock in his pocket clicked and there was no inside override. As the temperature climbed higher and higher and he didnÕt return, I experienced anxiety and fear, people passing by ignored my honking horn and gestures. Luckily, he returned before things were very seriousÉ but it was a frightening incident.

Just imagine a how an animal or child would suffer without even those options to communicate their distress. Overheating can occur in many ways and it doesnÕt have to be a ÒhotÓ day; warm summer days can quickly produce hyperthermia that, if unnoticed or ignored, can reach a critical stage, a threat to health and survival.

Never leave any animal in a car on a day even though itÕs Òonly warm.Ó With a window rolled partway down, and in the shade on a 75 degree day, the inside temperature can still skyrocket to over 100 degrees in a matter of a few short minutes.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, the greenhouse effect can send the temperature inside a vehicle soaring. At 72 degrees outside of a car, the temperature inside can rise up to 116 degrees within an hour; at 80 degrees, the temperature can climb to 99 degrees within 10 minutes. Rolling down windows partially has little effect on the interior temperature.

Overheating can result in organ failure, brain damage and death. Symptoms of an animal overheating are restlessness and distress, panting, dark pink or red tongue lolling out of the mouth, drooling, dry mouth membranes, and vomiting - all signs that a dog is in serious jeopardy.

If you see an animal in distress in a hot vehicle quickly jot down the license number, make and color of the car, and call the non-emergency number of the local police or animal control and give them the exact location and wait by the car for them to arrive. Should there be a delay for any reason and the animal is desperate, as you would with a child, you may be forced to make the decision to break a side window to get them out.

You may want to be prepared for emergencies and carry essential contact information such as local animal control and police non-emergency numbers programmed into your cell phone.

Your non-human family depends on you as their guardian, to make responsible decisions to keep them from harmÕs way. Even if itÕs only 10 minutes to run into a store on a warm day and you have to leave them in a vehicle Ð DonÕt! The bottom line is, Leave them home where they are safe.

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