LIHUE — Cars are excellent examples of the greenhouse effect. They trap heat with their metal and glass and that’s why even at a balmy 70 degrees, vehicles can get too hot for animals to survive.
Penny Cistaro, executive director of the Kauai Humane Society, said KHS receives a steady stream of phone calls reporting dogs locked in cars. She said there are a variety of options available to help keep canines cool.
“People go to the mall and the movies and leave their dog in the car,” Cistaro said. “We get calls about dogs in hot cars all the time.”
According to The Humane Society of the United States, a dog’s normal body temperature is between 101 and 102.5 degrees.
At 75 degrees outside, the temperature inside a car will rise to 110 degrees within half an hour, and that’s when things get dangerous. Canines can only tolerate those high temperatures for about 10 minutes before they risk irreversible brain damage, heatstroke and organ failure.
The American Veterinary Medical Foundation recommends a “love ‘em and leave ‘em” approach, meaning the organization pushes leaving pets at home when possible.
If it’s impossible to leave the dog at home, Cistaro said she recommends finding ways to achieve maximum airflow within the car.
“A dog sweats by panting, so if you are going to leave your dog in the car, you should be leaving the window down enough for the dog to get its head through so it can get air,” Cistaro said.
The county contracts KHS for prevention of cruelty to animals and officers with Kauai Police Department also respond to animal cruelty calls, including dogs locked in hot cars.
“The officers have this thermometer that they’ll drop through an open window to see how hot it is in the car,” Cistaro said. “We’ll break a window to get the dog out, and so will KPD.”
Leaving a dog in the car long enough to result in injury to the animal could land the owner a misdemeanor for animal cruelty.
If you see a dog locked in a hot car, Cistaro said call KHS or KPD immediately.
“The dog can be going into heatstroke and time is off the essence,” Cistaro said.
To report animal cruelty, call Kauai Humane Society at (808) 632-0610, extension 100, or call Kauai Police Department.