Canine Column: Dog days of summer

dogincarBy Marti Benson

Leave your dog at home.

If you are:

  • making a run to the grocery store
  • dropping off a package at the post office
  • popping into Walmart for just a couple of things
  • picking up a few plants for the garden
  • going anywhere that “should only take a couple of minutes”

Heatstroke causes suffering:

  • frantic panting or wheezing
  • difficulty breathing
  • rapid heart rate
  • vomiting or diarrhea
  • dizziness and lack of coordination
  • profuse salivation or drooling
  • seizures and unconsciousness
  • organ failure and death

On an 85-degree day, with windows slightly rolled down:

  • The temperature inside a car can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes.
  • The temperature inside a car will reach 120 degrees after 30 minutes.

If you see a pet in distress in a hot car:

  • Take down the car’s make, model and license plate number.
  • If there are businesses nearby, alert the managers or security guards; ask them to make an announcement to find the car’s owner.
  • If the owner cannot be found, call Animal Control (719-302-8798) or the non-emergency police number (719-444-7000); wait by the car until they arrive.

The Humane Society’s website—at— is a great resource for information regarding ways to help animals in hot vehicles; including a mention of laws that may protect a Good Samaritan helping a dog visibly in distress. It’s frustrating—and maddening—to see a pet left unattended in a vehicle on a hot day. Don’t feel helpless. Read the website’s information ahead of time—and be prepared to do what you can do if you witness this situation.

On a Saturday morning—in July of 2000—a man burst through the door of our veterinary clinic holding a small dog in extreme distress. Trailing the man were his four distraught young children. They were driving from the south to their new home in Colorado, and had stopped for a bite at a fast food restaurant. They left Mitzi, their two-year old dachshund, in the car. The doctor and technicians worked frantically to save the family’s beloved pet, but she had already suffered irreparable damage—and Mitzi had to be put to sleep. Twenty years later, I still remember that miserable Saturday morning.

Last week, a car stopped next to me in a sunny parking lot. The woman rolled the back windows down a couple of inches, smooched the two little dogs in the back seat—and went inside the large store. I hoped the woman was going to return quickly. But things happen—lines are longer than expected, you can’t find what you’re looking for, or you become distracted. I called the store and asked them to make an announcement.

Leave your dog at home.

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