When the heat is on

In the two years I’ve lived here, I’ve noticed how much people appear to love their companion dogs. People take their pups everywhere.

But canines are not welcome everywhere, and these same caring people constantly leave their dogs in cars.

It’s summer now: It’s hot, and even a 70-degree day can be dangerous. Dogs’ body temperatures can rise very quickly, and they can suffer heatstroke within a quarter of an hour. Cars parked in the shade on 84-degree days can heat up to 98 degrees. Leaving windows cracked an inch or two barely reduces the temperature, especially if there is no breeze. Wide-open car windows can lead to escapes.

People might not intend to take a long time in the stores, but given how fast the temperature rises, why would anyone take this kind of a chance? Why not take your dog home before you go shopping? What is difficult about this? It’s not always convenient to have a companion animal, but the responsibility for its life is something you agree to when you adopt one. To so willingly risk its life is very selfish indeed.

Many natural-foods stores (where I have noticed these incidents) hang up small, unobtrusive posters that clearly do not faze people who “need” to do their shopping right then and cannot wait to go home, release their dog, and go back out (or, if there are two people in the car, have one go inside and shop while the other sits in the air-conditioned car with the dog). Almost every person approached about this issue tells me: “It was only a few minutes.” I have timed many of these people, and I’ve found the average to be about 12 minutes. That is far too long for a dog to be left in a car.

I hope that dog guardians and the stores where they shop take this issue much more seriously than they currently do. I doubt anyone wants her/his dog to become the next statistic.

For more information, see vetmedicine.about.com/cs/summerinfo/a/summersafety.htm or www.mydogiscool.com.

— Wendy Kobylarz

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