A reminder to not leave pets in hot car during summer

Dear Editor:

Letter from a little gray dog:

You should take better care of me. I know I got all excited when you got ready to go for a drive, but you didn’t tell me that at the garden store you would leave me in the black car, in the hot sun, for so long. If I’d known, I would have wanted to stay home. You barely cracked the windows open and I was getting so very hot and thirsty. I suppose you didn’t want me to be able to get out of the car… it would have been nice to have that option.

When that lady pulled in she could see me panting in the back window and I could tell she felt bad for me. If I had been a child she would have called the police…but I’m only a dog, and your best friend. That lady would come to the gate or the window every 10 minutes or so to see if anyone was checking on me. She was getting really mad, I could tell. She spent more time thinking about me than you did. She was there for at least 30 minutes…how long were we there? I can’t remember.

Sometimes I don’t think so good because of what little heat strokes have already done to my brain. But you don’t think of that and I can’t tell you. I’m only a dog and your best friend.

As the lady who spent her shopping trip worrying about the little gray dog left in the hot car, I want to remind everyone that animals suffer the heat just as we do, if not more, and we are responsible for their safety. The following facts are excerpted from the PETA website:

• Every year, dogs suffer and die when their guardians make the mistake of leaving them in a parked car—even for “just a minute”—while they run an errand. Parked cars are deathtraps for dogs: On a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can soar to between 100 to 120 degrees in just minutes, and on a 90-degree day, the interior temperature can reach as high as 160 degrees in less than 10 minutes.

• Animals can suffer brain damage or death from heatstroke in just 15 minutes. Beating the heat is extra tough for dogs because they can only cool themselves by panting and by sweating through their paw pads.

• If you see a dog left alone in a car, take down the car’s color, model, make, and license plate number. Have the owner paged in the store, or call local humane authorities or police. Have someone keep an eye on the dog. Don’t leave the scene until the situation has been resolved.

• Watch for heatstroke symptoms such as restlessness, excessive thirst, heavy panting, lethargy, lack of appetite, dark tongue, rapid heartbeat, fever, vomiting or lack of coordination. If a dog shows any of these symptoms, get her or him into the shade immediately and call your veterinarian. Lower the animal’s body temperature gradually by providing water to drink, applying a cold towel or icepack to the head, neck, and chest, or immersing the dog in lukewarm (not cold) water.

Minnesota is one of 14 states which have laws concerning leaving pets in hot cars. Our laws aren’t the toughest but they can result in misdemeanor charges and fines to the owners. That customer with the little gray dog left just barely before I reached my boiling point and I can only hope and pray that they didn’t just go on to the next store to repeat the cycle of abuse.

Please, please, if you have errands to run, leave your pet at home and reward them with a walk later instead. They aren’t just a pet, they’re your best friend.

Terry Dallek