Now that the sun has (finally) returned to the Seattle area and temperatures are rising, the Seattle Animal Shelter is reminding pet owners that, even on 70-degree days, it is not safe to leave their dogs in vehicles.
“Even if the ambient temperature is cool, studies have shown it’s a sunny day that can cause a car’s interior temperature to rise by an average of 40 degrees within an hour,” said Ann Graves, Seattle Animal Shelter acting director.
“When the day starts out overcast and cool, pet owners sometimes have a false sense of safety,” Graves said. “But an overcast day can turn to a sunny day in the blink of an eye, and cars will get hot, very fast – and cracking the windows doesn’t help. It’s not worth the risk to leave your pet in a vehicle, on overcast days and especially sunny ones.”
A 2015 Washington state law makes it a violation just to leave an animal unattended in a vehicle or enclosed space, if the animal could be harmed or killed by exposure to excessive heat or cold, lack of ventilation or lack of water.
Penalties under this law are in addition to potential animal cruelty charges. Graves reminded the public that the shelter’s humane law enforcement officers responding to calls about animals left in hot cars will utilize all means necessary to access vehicles to remove the animals if they believe the animals are in distress.
The Seattle Animal Shelter offers the following tips for protecting pets on sunny days and during hot weather:
· If you must travel with your pet, carry water. If a trip requires you leave your pet in the car at any point, think about saving that for another day. It’s not worth the risk.
· Never leave dogs or cats unattended in a closed, locked vehicle. Animals do not perspire like humans; they cool themselves by panting. Vinyl, leather and even cloth seats in vehicles get hot under animals’ feet and prevent them from perspiring through their paws.
· Never leave your animal tethered or kenneled in direct sunlight. Provide a shady area for retreat, such as a dog house, porch or shady tree, and always provide access to cool water.
· If you leave animals indoors, open screened windows, keep a fan running, provide plenty of water and, if possible, leave them in a cool location.
· Avoid overexerting your animal in hot weather. Exercise is fine when taken in moderation, but obesity, old age, underlying disease and previous bouts of heat stroke can predispose an animal to the condition.
If you see an animal that may be in need of assistance, or if you have questions, contact the Seattle Animal Shelter at 206-386-PETS (7387). Information is also available online at http://www.seattleanimalshelter.org.