Don’t risk leaving dogs in vehicles as temperatures rise

Do you love your dog? Likely the answer is an emphatic, unqualified yes.

Perhaps that love even means taking that dog everywhere with you. But at this time of year, if you leave your furry companion in the car, SUV or pickup truck, you could love that dog to death.

The onset of summer temperatures — 80s and 90s for highs in the Iron Mountain area — this holiday weekend resulted in a slew of calls to local law enforcement about dogs closed up in vehicles in parking lots.

Were some of these overreactions to pets that actually were not in peril? Perhaps.

But the general advice when it comes to keep a dog in a vehicle when temperatures soar is err on the side of caution — which means don’t run the risk of a pet overheating.

Even if the windows are cracked, dogs still can suffer from lethal heat stroke inside the confines of a vehicle, especially on a sunny day that can turn such a closed space into an oven.

The temperature inside a vehicle can rise almost 20 degrees in just 10 minutes, the American Veterinary Medical Association warns. At 60 minutes, the temperature in your vehicle can be more than 40 degrees higher than the outside temperature — even on a 70-degree day, that’s 110 degrees inside your vehicle, according to the AVMA.

And cracking the windows makes no difference. Nor does being partly overcast — a study by the Louisiana Office of Public Health, found temperatures in a dark sedan as well as a light gray minivan parked on a hot but partly cloudy day exceeded 125 degrees within 20 minutes, according to the AVMA.

People may be certain they’re only going to be in a store for a few minutes, but delays can happen — friends can be bumped into while inside, items can prove difficult to find, lines can be long at checkout.

Let’s face it, in most cases, a “short” stop doesn’t wind up that way. Meanwhile, the clock may be ticking on any pet left in that vehicle.

So what can someone do if they see an animal in a vehicle they think might be in distress?

About 12 states — including Wisconsin but not Michigan — have enacted laws that limit the civil or criminal liability of anyone who forcibly enters a vehicle to rescue an animal they believe in danger, according to Michigan State University.

And 28 states have laws that either prohibit leaving an animal in confined vehicle under dangerous conditions or provide protection from being sued to a person who rescues a distressed animal from a vehicle, MSU advises.

So think twice before deciding to leave that dog inside a parked vehicle, even if it’s just to “pop in for a moment.” It could become a costly gamble for the dog or from damage to your vehicle if others have to step in.

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