THE ISSUE: Pets that are traveling companions are vulnerable to high temperatures, particularly if they are left alone in cars.
LOCAL IMPACT: Eastern North Carolina’s scorching summers make pets particularly vulnerable to heat-related injuries or death. A local veterinarian offers tips to keep your pet healthy.
At around 11 a.m. Friday a Kinston Police Officer was dispatched to the Kinston Wal-Mart on a report of a dog left in a car in the store parking lot.
The officer located the car with a small dog inside and two half-open windows and a cup of water to keep it cool.
Outside the car, the temperature was around 88 degrees, with a heat index of 101. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the temperature inside the car could be as high as 109, or above 130 by the time the driver of the vehicle came back to the car an hour later.
Leaving an animal unattended in a car can earn someone a misdemeanor charge of animal abuse and as much as 120 days of community service or a fine, which the owner of the dog left at Wal-Mart received. More importantly, the heat can hurt or kill a pet.
“There is no reason why a dog should be left in a vehicle. There is nothing you can do about the heat in the car; it’s like leaving your kid in a car. They are trapped,” Dr. Julie Garren, veterinarian at Riverbank Animal Hospital in Kinston, said. “Dogs don’t sweat (to cool off) like humans do; they do that by panting,”
If they get too hot, dogs — like people — can suffer from heat strokes, which can cause internal damage, brain damage and organ failure.
Garren said Riverbank sees multiple pets every summer that have suffered some kind of heat stroke or heat-related injury. Not all stem from being locked in a car.
Some simply spent too much time playing with their owners in the summer heat, others were at the beach or on a boat with no shade or fresh water available to drink, and some were out for walks…