Pet safety urged as temperatures heat up
On a Monday after a record heat wave in Oregon, Roger Kadell catches up on calls. Hes the lone dog control officer for Columbia County. The job gives him a large radius to cover and limited resources to do so.
He relies on the help of police departments in each city to respond to animal complaints if he cant get there in time.
Its not unusual for Kadell to get calls from concerned residents who spot dogs left in hot cars, but unseasonably warm temperatures in early June left some hyper-vigilant and others unprepared.
The primary spaces Ive been seeing is Fred Meyer parking lot and Walmart parking lot, Kadell says. I think its because theyre high-volume parking lots.
With summer officially here, Kadell doesnt expect his workload to slow down any time soon.
Its become a cliché warning for many pet owners, but still, animal control agencies constantly get calls of anim-
als, mostly dogs, left in hot spaces.
If its more than 80 degrees out and your car is in direct sunlight, youre gonna have a problem, Kadell warns. It really doesnt take very long for a car to heat up. Try and sit in your car and roll the windows up with no air on and see how long it takes before you need to turn the air back on.
The Oregon Humane Society lists a Danger Zone fact sheet, specifically to prevent people from leaving dogs unattended in hot cars.
On an 85-degree day, a cars interior temperature can climb to 120 degrees in 20 minutes, even with the windows slightly open, OHS reports. Temperatures inside a car increase by an average of 19 degrees in the first 10 minutes, 29 degrees in 20 minutes; and 33 degrees in 30 minutes, regardless of the outside temperature.
Dogs left in hot cars, or even hot yards with no reprieve can easily be overcome with heat exhaustion.
If a dog is lethargic and is panting, and drooling at the mouth, those are all signs that hes having heat dehydration in a car, Kadell says. Water doesnt cool a dog off unless youre dumping it on him. They need to be able to breathe cool air.
OHS also advises pet owners not to walk dogs on sidewalks or paved roads during peak heat temperatures, and not to transport dogs in the back of pickup trucks on hot days, as the hot ground or metal truck bed can burn their skin and paw pads.
With most of the calls he responds to, Kadell says he tries to educate owners, rather than citing them.
Most of the time we get there and its an educational thing, he says. Unless the dog has really suffered some sort of injury, or death. I might issue two, maybe three hot dog citations a summer, rather than taking them criminally. ...Typically, if its something beyond, where a warning doesnt seem like its working, or a person doesnt come out and we have to remove the animal, then we issue a citation. We dont wait very long on that.
Animal neglect is a violation of Columbia Countys ordinances and can come with a $500 fine, according to Kadell.
Oregon law also requires minimum care standards for animals. By law, animals must have adequate food, water and shelter. Carriers intended for transport, cardboard boxes, wire cages or kennels, crawl spaces under structures, shade underneath vehicles, or any shelter surrounded by waste and debris.
Tips for summer pet care
? Do keep your pets inside the house, with plenty of water. The best place for your pet to be during the heat of the day is inside with you - especially if you have an air conditioner or fan;
? Do give outside pets lots of shade and plenty of water to drink if it is not possible to bring them indoors;
? Do get a kiddie pool and fill it with water for your dogs to splash and play in. They will love it.
Symptoms of heatstroke could include: restlessness, excessive thirst, heavy panting, lethargy, lack of appetite, dark red tongue or gums, vomiting, and lack of coordination. Contact your veterinarian if your pet exhibits these symptoms.
If your pet is overcome by heat exhaustion, immediately immerse or spray the animal with cool running water (avoid cold water as that could cause shock) and continue until the body temperature lowers. Give your pet water to drink and consult your veterinarian right away to determine if additional treatment is needed.
Oregon Humane Society