Colorado Humanitarian Society worker experiences triple-digit temperatures during hot car demonstration | North Springs Edition
The Humane Society of the Pikes Peak area has an urgent message for pet owners in Colorado: Please do not leave your pet in your car.
To get this message home, an animal law enforcement officer demonstrated the effects of sitting in an unused vehicle on a hot summer day: Tim Rice spent 30 minutes on Monday in a parked car.
Thousands of pets die each year in hot vehicles in the United States, according to the ASPCA. In the Pikes Peak area, aid company agents have responded to more than 200 calls about dogs left in hot cars since early May, officials said. An officer recently discovered four dogs that had died from exposure to the heat.
The problem became personal for Rice last summer when he answered an emergency call and found two dogs dead in a vehicle. The owner was ultimately charged with animal cruelty.
“He was already devastated by the deaths of his dogs,” Rice said. “Having to deal with a court case afterwards made it worse. “
Dogs lack the natural cooling mechanisms that humans do, according to Humane Society veterinarian Jennifer Rainey. Because they can’t sweat, dogs cool down primarily by panting, which doesn’t do them much good if they’re trapped in a 100-degree vehicle with no airflow.
“A lot of people think opening a few windows or parking the car in the shade will make all the difference in the world,” Rainey said. “But studies have shown that it does very little to cool the car or help traffic when the car is completely stopped.”
It doesn’t take very long for an inert vehicle to get dangerously hot, Rainey said.
“It can take 5 to 10 minutes for the temperature to reach triple digits” inside a parked vehicle, she said. “In less than 30 minutes, it is not uncommon for the temperature to exceed 120 degrees. I think there is a lot of confusion as to how quickly this is happening.
For the demonstration, Rice tried to mirror the conditions he typically finds on a hot car emergency call. The vehicle was parked partly in the shade and two of the windows were slightly open. It was about 3 p.m., and outside temperatures had reached 88 degrees.
A digital temperature gauge recorded 90 degrees in the vehicle when Rice entered and closed the door. In five minutes, the temperature had climbed to 100 degrees. Ten minutes later, the thermometer read 105 degrees and the interior of the vehicle was “very uncomfortable,” Rice said. The temperature finally reached 108 degrees.
“He’s able to sweat, and that will help cool his body,” Rainey said while Rice was in the vehicle. “Dogs can’t do that. Plus, if he really needs to get out of the car, he can. Dogs can’t do that either.
After 30 minutes, Rice got out of the vehicle soaked in sweat.
“I feel very relieved to be in the good air, catching a little breeze,” he said. “It was a controlled situation, but it was super uncomfortable and super hot inside that vehicle.”
Animals are generally not left in cars out of cruelty, Rice said. But a moment of inattention could result in the loss of a beloved pet.
“We know a lot of people don’t do this to hurt or be mean to their animals,” said Rice, a 6-year veteran of animal law enforcement. “They just don’t think, and they don’t realize how dangerous it really is. In these summer days, it is best to leave your dog at home.
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