Mt Pleasant News
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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 8, 2016

Cracking the window on the vehicle doesn't cut it

By Sally Y. Hayes

By SALLY Y. HAYES

Mt. Pleasant News

You have seen it time and time again in big box stores’ parking lots and parking spots around the square… people leaving their beloved Fido in their vehicle while they run inside for an errand that often takes longer than intended.

As summer comes into full swing and the mercury rises in thermometers, cars begin to transform into ovens on wheels, and leaving windows cracked is often not adequate ventilation to cool creatures caught inside.

“Automobile temperatures can very quickly rise to dangerous levels. The average temperature increase in a parked car is 40 degrees, and the majority of this increase occurs in the first 15 to 30 minutes,” said Dr. Louise Murray, Vice President of the ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital.

“(Your car) can become a death trap even on a mild sunny day – and can insidiously raise the car’s temperature to well above 120 degrees!” according to the American Animal Hospital Association.

The high temperatures in vehicles on sunny, humid summer days common in Iowa can cause heatstroke in animals. “Our four-legged friends only perspire around their paws, which is not enough to cool the body. To rid themselves of excess heat, animals pant,” read an article from the American Animal Hospital Association on The Weather Channel’s website.

According to PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, “…on a 90-degree day, the interior temperature can reach as high as 160 degrees in less than 10 minutes. Animals can suffer brain damage or death from heatstroke in just 10 minutes.”

Leaving a pet in a car on a hot is no doubt dangerous.

The ASPCA, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, lists a procedure should you spot a furry friend behind a steamy steering wheel this summer:

1. Try to locate the pet parent – perhaps going into the store and calling over the loud speaker for the owner of the vehicle.

2. Educate – if you find the owners, get the animal out of the car as soon as possible and explain the dangers of leaving a pet in a hot car.

3. Call 911 – if you cannot locate the owners, contact authorities to remove the animal from the heat. Many municipalities deem leaving pets in hot cars as animal cruelty.

There are 14 states across the U.S. that now have statutes against that act due to the dangerous conditions that can arise for the animals trapped inside, patiently waiting for their person to return.

In fact, three of Iowa’s neighbors have such laws.

Illinois’s measure can result in a Class C misdemeanor for persons convicted of “confining any animal in a motor vehicle in such a manner that places it in a life or health threatening situation by exposure to a prolonged period of extreme heat or cold, without proper ventilation or other protection from such heat or cold,” according to the Michigan University College of Law.

Minnesota and South Dakota have similar statutes. Many cities across the country also have similar statutes, citing the act as a form of animal cruelty.

Ultimately, the best place for Fido during the dog days of summer is at home, where it is cool and comfortable.