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May 31, 2013 - Amy Jo Hanna-Eckenrode
We've come a long way educating the public about the dangers of leaving pets and small children in cars during warm/hot weather, but, sadly, we have a long way to go.

I accept the fact now - however impossible it is to still believe - that there are people who just simply do not know that the interior of a car can get so hot, so quickly it can kill a child or animal in minutes.

As the chart (attached) shows, it doesn’t take long for inside temperatures to top the 100-degree mark, even when outside temperatures seem moderate. The consequences of being left in a hot car can be life threatening for a dog:

Dogs cool themselves by panting and by releasing heat through their paws. They do not perspire through their skin like people. On warm days the air and upholstery in your vehicle heats up to high temperatures making it impossible for pets to cool themselves. A dog’s normal body temperature is between 101 to 102.5 degrees; a dog can only withstand a high body temperature for a short time before suffering nerve damage, heart problems, liver damage, brain damage or even death. (via National Mill Dog Rescue)

This excellent post on the ASPCA site ( offers advice on what you can do if you see a dog in a hot car.

There is no need to 'walk away' if you encounter this situation. There ARE things you can do even if you are not as bold as my cousin who once broke a car window to rescue a husky mix near death. A vet tech, she immediately recognized the signs of distress and chose to take action at that moment. She broke the window with a new pan she had just purchased, got the dog out and began to administer emergency care. The dog survived after a long recovery period and did end up suffering long-term internal organ damage. The owner, who returned after the dog was revived reacted with anger over her broken window – not that she had almost suffocated her dog. My cousin, not naming any names, Cyndee, worked with the local police who did unfortunately have to confiscate her brand new pan.. They also told the irate lady that she was welcome to press charges but that the replacement of her broken window was probably going to cost a lot less than cruelty charges.

You don't have to be as forward as Cyndee (although, I adore her and love this story <3) . . at the VERY least take the car information down and ask the store to try and page the owner. Never hesitate to call your animal enforcement officer (find the number now and put it in your cell phone) – or, the local police. Yes, it's that critical of a situation. You are witnessing a living, breathing being suffocate to death right before your eyes.

Knowing you saved a life is worth getting yelled at by an embarrassed or irate owner who feels that you’re telling them how to parent or care for their dog. People who yell or become irate are simply reacting because they are either embarrassed or sadly, truly don't know the seriousness of their actions.

If it comes down to it, you can even call 911, who can dispatch a local officer or animal enforcement.

Because I've encountered more people, especially senior citizens who love traveling with their furry companions but do not know how fatal their actions can be, I have chosen to print out and carry small reminder cards in my car that I can give to the person or place on their windshield. I know these people cherish their companions and would never want to do anything intentionally to hurt them. You may be educating a person for the very first time about the dangers of leaving their beloved pet in a hot car.

Feel free to contact me to send you the the card I use and print out a supply and carry them with you or contact me at and I'd be happy to send you a packet -- OR visit my facebook or twitter page: "Have Dog Will Blog" and print out the flyer from there!

Remember, 10 minutes can mean disaster. Step up to the plate <3

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