When a Salt Lake County animal control officer was dispatched to a dog-in-distress call Tuesday afternoon, they arrived to find the animal convulsing and unresponsive.
The officer pull the dog from an unlocked car door and tried to administer aid while cooling it down, according to a news release from Salt Lake County Animal Services. But it was too late.
At about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, the apparent German Shepherd-mix stopped breathing and died just moments later, after being trapped in the vehicle for more than an hour. The dog’s owner was found at a nearby business in Salt Lake City and cited for animal cruelty, the release states.
The call represents one of about 500 such reports that officers with Salt Lake County Animal Services respond to each year for dogs left in hot vehicles, according to the release.
What heat distress in an animal can look like:
Dogs are more susceptible to heat than humans, since they can’t cool themselves by sweating. Older dogs, puppies and breeds with flatter faces are all at higher risk as well.
“On a 70-degree day, the temperature in the car can soar to 116 degrees in as little as 10 minutes, causing a dog to suffer and die a painful death,” the release states.
Symptoms of pet heat stroke include heavy panting (or a sudden cessation of panting), rapid pulse, salivation, anxious looks, weakness, tremors, a lack of coordination, convulsions, vomiting and collapse, officials said.
Here are some tips residents should keep in mind as Salt Lake City heads into a seven-day stretch of mostly sunny days, with highs expected to reach the upper-90s, according to the National Weather Service.
What to do if you see a distressed animal in a parked vehicle:
Call 911 if the animal is exhibiting signs of heatstroke while unattended in a vehicle.
Take photos of the animal and the car’s license plate, and pass the information along to animal control officers.
Contact surrounding businesses and ask if the owner is there, and that they return to the vehicle immediately.
What not to do:
Do not break a vehicle’s windows; doing so could leave you liable for damages. Pets are not included under Utah’s Good Samaritan laws, officials said.
Do not leave a dog in a vehicle with the air conditioning running, as sometimes air conditioning units fail, officials advised. Instead, “do what’s best for your dog, leave them at home,” the release states.