Don‚Äôt leave your pets in vehicles, leave them home:‚ÄąSPCA‚Äąpresident
© Geraldine Brophy
Don't worry, Donna Luther's nine-year-old basset hound, Abby, was only posing for a few seconds in a hot vehicle Thursday, July 3, 2014 to illustrate what people should not do to their pets.
‚ÄúFido‚ÄĚ may cry to see you leave him at home, but it‚Äôs better than the silence you may experience after leaving the dog inside an overheated vehicle.
Donna Luther, president of the NL West SPCA, says not many summer days pass when she does not see a social media post related to an animal left in a vehicle. While, she cannot recall a specific incident so far this year locally, she said last year there were numerous.
The majority of the complaints here involve dogs left in vehicles as the owners go shopping or into a store for ‚Äújust a few minutes.‚ÄĚ Luther said a few minutes usually ends up being longer and it does not take long for a vehicle to overheat when parked in the sunlight.
‚ÄúAnimals can‚Äôt sweat like we do, so they don‚Äôt have the same ability to stay cool,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúCracking a window an inch, people think they are doing wonders, but it really doesn‚Äôt do a whole lot at all.‚ÄĚ
Pet owners must take precautions against the danger of heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Inside a parked vehicle, the temperature can rapidly increase to a level that will seriously harm or even kill a pet.
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) reports that on a 25C day, the temperature inside a parked car can rise to between 38C and 49C. On a 32C day, the interior can get as high as 71C in less than 10 minutes. Animals can sustain brain damage or even die from heatstroke in just 15 minutes, PETA says.
‚ÄúA very simple way to keep your animal safe is, don‚Äôt do it,‚ÄĚ Luther said. ‚ÄúLeave them at home, no matter how hard that might be.‚ÄĚ
She encourages people who see animals left in vehicles on a hot day to do something about it. People have searched for the owner, tried to help get the animal out if the door was unlocked or if a window was down far enough, or called the police.
Luther said the local police, who enforce animal protection in this area, are helpful in such situations.
Const. Scott Mosher said the majority of instances when police become involved are complaints from concerned bystanders. He encourages people to report it and not take matters into their own hands.
There are no investigations on file so far this year, which Mosher said is fortunate because of the extreme hot conditions of the past while. However, he confirmed police have responded to such situations in the past.
Police have the Criminal Code of Canada and the provincial Animal Health and Protection Act to guide them. The offences can carry substantial fines and jail time. However, the abuse of the animal in this case is often unintentional and Mosher said officer discretion is used.
Sometimes education is needed, other times a warning might be sufficient, but the officer also said pet owners can be charged for animal neglect or abuse.
‚ÄúIn our experience, most of these animal owners are animal lovers,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúThey don‚Äôt intentionally intend to cause harm to their animal.‚ÄĚ
Mosher also believes it is best to leave the animal at home.
He also encourages the public to remain vigilant and report such instances to police.
Symptoms of heatstroke
‚ÄĒ exaggerated panting (or the sudden stopping of panting)
‚ÄĒ rapid or erratic pulse
‚ÄĒ anxious or staring expression
‚ÄĒ weakness and muscle tremors
‚ÄĒ lack of co-ordination
‚ÄĒ tongue and lips red (which may eventually turn bluish in colour)
‚ÄĒ convulsions or vomiting
‚ÄĒ collapse, coma and death
Emergency treatment for dogs
If your dog shows symptoms of heatstroke follow these instructions:
‚ÄĒ Immediately move the animal to a cool, shady place
‚ÄĒ Wet the dog with cool water
‚ÄĒ Fan vigorously to promote evaporation. This process will cool the blood, which reduces the dog‚Äôs core temperature.
‚ÄĒ Do not apply ice. This constricts blood flow which will inhibit cooling
‚ÄĒ Allow the dog to drink some cool water
‚ÄĒ Take the dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible for further treatment.
Source:‚ÄąThe British Columbia SPCA