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Concern Grows Over Pets Left Unattended in Hot Vehicles

By Canishka Alexander

It’s a growing concern, and one that affects pets worldwide.

Abaco is no exception.

As a receptionist and assistant to Dr. Derrick Bailey at Island Veterinary Clinic for almost 19 years, Chamara Parotti recently addressed the alarming issue of pets being left unattended inside of hot vehicles.

“The main danger that comes from leaving a pet in a hot car is heat stroke, which can happen very quickly. The temperature inside a car during summer can rise to triple digits in minutes. Also, dogs can get heatstroke even if the AC is on if they are left long enough, and it can also happen in the cooler months if the windows are left up.

“The animal’s brain and internal organs essentially cook. It can take less than 20 minutes for a dog’s temperature to reach critical levels. Anything above 103 [degrees] is a fever under normal conditions – 107 can be fatal,” she warned.

Driving the point home even further, Parotti gave this example: the temperature in a locked car can rise by 20 degrees in 10 minutes. Essentially, it can get “hot enough in a hot car to bake cookies, so 90-degree weather can turn your car into an oven.”

Additionally, leaving a car window cracked is simply not enough to allow air to flow freely inside the vehicle to keep the pet cool. Parotti advised that if the animal has to be in the car, all of the windows should be fully open.

“You also want to be parked in a shady area and to have water available for them,” she strongly advised. “Even then I would not recommend leaving them for more than a few minutes.”

Again, Parotti’s advice would be to leave pets at home, and if that is not possible, then find someone who can either stay with them with the air condition on, or get someone to keep them for you while you run errands.

“So far this year, we have seen about four cases of heatstroke. None have been fatal because they were brought in in time, but last year we lost several patients,” she revealed.

Here are some additional tips she offered: If someone sees an animal locked inside of a car, they should check the doors first. If they are unlocked, remove the dog to a shady area, and offer them room temperature water.

“You don’t want to give them large volumes of ice-cold water. Then send someone to find the owner, and encourage them to take the dog to a vet. The symptoms of heatstroke might not show up straight away so it would be best to have them evaluated by a veterinarian. If the car doors are locked, see if the person can be found and call the police.”

At Island Veterinary Clinic, the staff cares for pets and livestock, so that includes dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, sheep, goats, etc.

Another major concern has been the rise in backyard breeders, which has driven the cost of purebred dogs way down.

“That enables people who years ago could not afford a dog to impulsively buy puppies as gifts or status symbols without being fully aware of the costs that come with it. So that leaves us with a lot of neglect cases and abandoned pets,” Parotti explained.

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