Walking through a store parking lot recently, Carl Arky saw two cars with dogs locked inside. It was 85 degrees that day, and Arky knew the animals could be in trouble.
“The cars were in the sun, not in the shade,” Arky recalled. “People don’t think about, or maybe they are just not aware, that animals have a hard time getting rid of the heat.”
Now that temperatures are rising, it’s time for a seasonal reminder never to leave pets in parked cars on hot days. On an 85-degree day, a car with windows cracked open will reach a temperature of 102 degrees in 10 minutes, or 120 degrees in 20 minutes, said Arky, Utah Humane Society spokesman.
His reminder is timely. The weather forecast through Monday calls for temperatures in the low to upper 80s each day.
“You just have to use as much foresight and common sense as you have,” Arky said. “If it’s over 60 degrees, just leave them home if you have to run into the store.”
Dogs don’t sweat to cool themselves down like humans do, and pets may get heat stroke, Arky said.
On that recent Sunday afternoon, Arky called the police to report the dogs in danger, then spoke to the store manager. The manager put out an announcement over the loudspeaker.
Police have legal authority to break a vehicle’s window if a dog is unresponsive, said April Harris, associate director of Salt Lake County Animal Services. When police officers arrive, they use temperature gauges to determine how hot the car’s dashboard is, then observe the animal’s condition. If the animal is panting, police attempt to track down the car’s owner. If it is unresponsive, police break the car’s window.
Harris said police resort to breaking windows three to four times each summer.
“Animals are fairly resilient, but you don’t want to push it too far,” Arky said. “If it’s 85 degrees and you go in the store for 10 minutes, you are taking your chances. Their systems can go into distress, and then you are looking at major veterinary bills.”
Beside leaving the pets at home, Arky suggests leaving the car running with the air conditioning on if owners do not feel comfortable leaving them outside.
Arky has three dogs, and says he thinks of his dogs as part of the family, and wouldn’t leave his dogs in the car.
“It’s the same thing with your kid, you wouldn’t leave them in the car for 10 minutes,” he said.