Originally Published: April 23, 2012 9:27 p.m.
As the weather warms up, pet owners are reminded to not leave pets in their cars while they run errands because temperatures inside the car can rise quickly, said Prescott Animal Control Supervisor Shannon Gray.
When its 85 degrees outside, even with car windows slightly open, the temperature inside can climb to 102 degrees in 10 minutes and to 120 degrees in a half hour, Gray said, but a dog can only withstand a body temperature of 107 for a short period of time before suffering irreparable brain damage, heart problems, liver damage or even death.
"We understand that people want to take their dog with them when they go on errands. This is a very dog-friendly city," Gray said. "But if it's too hot for you to sit in the car, then it's too hot for your dog."
When Animal Control responds to a call of a dog in a car, officers will take photos of the incident, record the temperature of the dog and the car, and speak to the owner about the danger the situation presents their pet.
"A good part of our work is owner education," Gray said.
Many times a warning works, but owners need to realize that leaving an animal unattended and confined in a motor vehicle which can harm the animal is a Class 1 misdemeanor with a fine of up to $2,500, as long as 6 months in jail and a maximum of three years' probation, Gray said.
If people see a dog in a car that seems to be in distress, they should call Animal Control, the police or 911 quickly. Signs that a dog is suffering from a heat-related illness are excessive panting, heavy drooling, increased heart rate, trouble breathing, disorientation, loss of consciousness, and seizures.
Pet owners who want to take their pets along with them as they do their errands should put their pets on a leash or carrier and bring the pets with them instead of leaving them in the car, Gray said.
There are many pet-friendly businesses in town. Pet owners can also use the drive-thrus, and patronize local restaurants that have patios where pets on leashes or in carriers are welcome, Gray said.
If it is a particularly warm day, owners should consider leaving their pet at home where it's cool, Gray said.
Or, take another person along to sit in the car with the dog while running the air conditioner, Gray said.