Aug. 1, 2020 — During this run of warm weather, the Oregon Coast Humane Society (OCHS) reminds pet owners how dangerous it is to leave an animal in a car, even for a few minutes.
“Cracking the window and trying to park in the shade isn’t going to make enough of a difference,” said OCHS Executive Director Charles Brown. “On a 70-degree day, the inside of your car or truck may raise to 90 degrees within minutes, and up to 115 degrees within an hour.
“On an 85-degree day, it only takes 10 minutes for your care to reach 102 degrees inside and 120 degrees within 30 minutes. At that point, your beloved pet will be suffering significantly.”
According to Brown, animals can sustain brain damage or die from heatstroke in just 15 minutes.
Pets at the highest risk for overheating, and resultant organ and brain damage, are young, elderly or overweight animals, those with short muzzles and those with thick or dark-colored coats.
The only way a dog can cool itself is by panting.
“A car may overheat even when the windows are left open an inch or two. Shade offers little protection on a hot day and will move as the sun does. Heat builds up in a poorly ventilated car even in the shade,” Brown said. “Breaking a window to rescue a stranger’s animal is an option, but it comes with legal responsibilities.”
Florence Police Commander John Pitcher said that concerned citizens must contact police before breaking the window of a vehicle, thus giving an officer time to arrive on the scene.
If a person elects to break the window before police arrive, they are required by law to stay with the vehicle, and animal, until police arrive.
If the act was found unnecessary, the person is held liable for damages; if it was found to be necessary to rescue the animal, the person will not be held liable.
“Before taking the radical step of breaking a window, call 911 or enter nearby stores and have the vehicle’s owner paged by giving the vehicle’s description (make, model, color) and vehicle license plate number. A description of the at-risk animal helps too,” Brown said.
For pets, heatstroke symptoms include heavy panting, lethargy, excessive thirst, thick saliva, restlessness, rapid heartbeat, fever, lack of appetite, dark tongue, vomiting, bloody diarrhea and lack of coordination.
“If a dog shows any of these symptoms, get it out of the heat, into an air-conditioned environment, and then to a veterinarian immediately,” Brown said.
To learn more, adopt or foster a pet, volunteer to walk a dog, or make a financial contribution so OCHS’s residents can find their “fur-ever” home, call the humane society shelter at 541-997-4277, stop by the shelter at 2840 Rhododendron Dr., or visit OregonCoast HumaneSociety.org.
OCHS is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Donations are tax deductible.