Hot Cars and Dogs Don’t Mix: A Summer PSA

by Kimberly Wade

It’s PSA time, friends, so get ready. Last Sunday, I was at Trader Joes and upon leaving I saw a silver Lexus in the space parked right in front. It was nearing 100 degrees, and the windows were cracked. Yup, you know what I’m going to say next. I heard barking.

I glanced at the car to see a mini schnauzer bouncing from window to window, hollering as loudly as he could. The car was in a handicapped space so I was giving the person the benefit of doubt that he or she would be out soon—even though in this kind of heat, we all know soon can’t be soon enough. I tried to assume the car hadn’t been parked long, so I continued on to my car to unload my groceries.

My head and heart got the best of me. I checked on the dog again. Though still going from window to window, his liveliness was relaxing, and all of my emotions came rushing forward as I decided I was going to call Washoe County Regional Animal Services and watch over the dog until help came.

In the time it took Animal Services to get there I watched the Schnauzer go from active to inactive. He got to a point where he stopped barking and just lay down. I was angry, stressed, sad and helpless. I could have broken the windows, but I also couldn’t forget about the laws—though I was willing to do that. I’m also sure another bystander would have done it or we could have pulled him through the window if an emergency arose.

I saw Animal Services enter the parking lot. In the time it took for me to turn my back, a woman come out of the store, with flowers in her hand. I wasn’t next to the car; I was a few doors down and I knew it probably wasn’t good of me to confront her with all the language I was going to use. But flowers? That’s it? I looked at the time. In all honesty, from the time this all started, it had been over a half an hour—and who knows how much longer the woman was in the store before I came out.

She got in her car. Animal Services pulled up behind her, blocked her car and got out, citation book in hand. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but I could only imagine what was being said. I later “happened” to follow the woman out of the parking lot. The dog was active, thankfully, but you never know what may happen in this situation.

Here’s the thing. I did my due diligence and asked around but also felt the need to share this lesson in a very public, busy area. I can’t understand how it isn’t common sense that it’s too hot to leave a dog (or a kid) in the car in the middle of the summer. We see news stories about this all too often. Dogs cannot cool themselves as easily as people, and once they overheat, extensive organ damage can occur. It’s a form of cruelty, so here’s what you can do if you see a dog (or a kid) in a locked, hot car:

  • In Washoe County, call 775-322-3647. In Carson City, 775-887-2171. Do not report this online!
  • Get the vehicle’s license plate, pet description and vehicle description.
  • If there is a nearby business, request an emergency announcement or ask around.
  • Go back to the vehicle and wait for Animal Services (it is recommended not to enter the vehicle or confront the owner, but I know my fellow animal lovers have done that).
  • If after hours, call 911.

This schnauzer was lucky but I can tell you that in animal welfare, we see overheated animals arrive at our shelters more often than not. So regardless of how they may react, advise your friends to only take their pets with them if they’re going from point A to point B. Our dogs love travelling and going to the lake and hiking… but let’s be smart about this.

Featured Pet: Howdy! I’m Trooper, the typical hyperactive, happy-go-lucky kitten… with a twist! You see, I know what I want and I go for it! I’m not the most polite (sometimes I use my claws) but as I’m young, I need a patient person and cat-savvy home who understands me and can give me the proper training. I’d do best with no other pets or young kids because of my overly vivacious nature… so are you the one for me? Meet me in Reno today!

Adoptable Pets at Nevada Humane Society

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