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Dog Days of Summer: Why You Shouldn't Leave Your Dog in a Hot Car

The dog days of summer are here so here's a big reminder: If you plan to take your pet out with you, it's important to remember how dangerous the inside of a parked car can be.
MONROE (KTVE/KARD) -- The dog days of summer are here so here's a big reminder: If you plan to take your pet out with you, it's important to remember how dangerous the inside of a parked car can be.
The Humane Society of Monroe teams up with us to demonstrate just how hot it can get.

Imagine being locked inside a confined space, that's getting hotter by the minute. Unfortunately, it's a horrific experience some dogs and even children go through each summer.

"Be safe, this is something that can be easily avoided and its a tragedy that doesn't need to happen," said Ellen Hicks, president of the Humane Society of Monroe.

To demonstrate, Hicks offered to see how it feels to sit in a hot car for 15 minutes. She wore a fleece jacket and a heart monitor wristwatch to gage her body readings.

"this is the closest thing i can think of that would simulate fur," Hicks said of the jacket.

In the experiment, Hicks sat in a car with the outside temperature at 88 degrees Fahrenheit. We gave her a giant thermostat to watch the inside temperature with.

After starting the timer, Hicks stepped inside and shut the door.

Watching the gage, the temperature jumped from 80 degrees to over 100 degrees in less than five minutes.

"I do know what a rotisserie chicken feels likes now," said Hicks. "It is very very oven-like. I really wish i had a bowl of cold water."

Hicks said while humans have the ability to sweat, dogs don't. Dogs and cats can't perspire and can only dispel heat by panting and through the pads of their feet. If you suspect a heat stroke in your pet, seek veterinary attention immediately.

Signs of heat stroke in animals include:

- Body temperature of 104F to 110F degrees
- Excessive panting
- Dark or bright red tongue and gums
- Sticky or dry tongue and gums
- Staggering
- Stupor
- Seizures
- Bloody diarrhea or vomiting
- Rapid heartbeat

"Their gums turn a bright red or purple, they're in distress, and that's when you've got to get them cooled down, just with some hose water," said Hicks. "If you cool them down with ice water or ice towels, that shrinks the blood vessels and actually makes them hold the heat."

Hicks says she saw a dog inside a hot car for herself this week while shopping.

"Just heard an announcement over the intercom, and as president of the Humane Society of Monroe, I felt the need to investigate," she said.

She said an employee noticed the dog locked inside a car, with the windows cracked. The owner came forward and left before the authorities arrived, Hicks said.

"They left their dog, in the car on a day like today, for over 20 minutes," she said.

Even with the windows cracked during the experiment,  the car still felt like an oven-on-wheels.

"It's still over 100 degrees and the windows are still half down," said Hicks.

Monroe Police say they get a lot of reports this time of year regarding animals and even children sitting inside hot cars without the AC running. Officials say you can get in trouble if caught leaving your dog inside a hot car.

"A lot of people don't mean any harm by that, but they're still responsible for that animal," said Sgt. Mark Johnson with the Monroe Police Department. "It is a cruelty to an animal statute which can be a felony."

Johnson said there's also a possible fine up to $2,000 dollars. These conditions aren't guaranteed in every case, but Johnson said the statutes are strict.

"We try to be fair and equitable about this thing, but at the end of the day, it's about keeping the animals safe," he said.

Johnson said by law, you also cannot leave a vehicle unattended while running. Both he and Hicks advise people to leave their pet at home over leaving them inside a hot car.

After the 15 minutes passes, the experiment inside the car proves the point.

"That is not any place for anybody to be -- dog or mankind," said Hicks.

Tips:

- Never leave your pet in a car when you travel or do errands.
- On very hot days, limit exercising your pet to early morning or evening hours.
- Asphalt always gets very hot and can burn your pet's paws.
- Pets with light-colored fur on their ears are particularly vulnerable to sunburn and skin cancer. Use sunscreen on their noses and ear tips.
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