Prevention and Knowledge Can Keep Pets Safe Outside

The dog days of summer are approaching which means hotter temperatures for you and your pets. Every year, hundreds of pets die or are left seriously ill from being left in overheating cars or on tethers outside with no proper protection given. Here at HARP, we are working hard to be proactive in preventing your pooch from the risks of overheating and dehydrating in the hot heat.

Officer Angela Fry has been working alongside HARP for over a year as a humane police officer. Officer Fry enforces the animal cruelty and neglect statute in the PA crime code and is a trusted member of the HARP team. Officer Fry joins HARP in telling the importance of educating the public on leaving animals tethered outside in the high heat and being left in vehicles. “Just yesterday I received 7 calls from the public, police agencies, and animal control agencies regarding dogs outside in the high heat,” Fry explains, “I want to be proactive about it to hopefully save lives.” Pennsylvania law makes it a presumption of neglect if the dog is tethered for longer than 30 minutes in temperatures above 90 or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

A dog is left tethered outside. What type of breeds are most at risk for overheating?

There are no exceptions or determining factors based on the breed of the dog. “All animals outside in extreme heat are at risk for overheating, especially those who do not have proper shelter or water provided for them,” Officer Fry tells us. Of course, longer-haired breeds, younger or older animals, and animals with medical complications would suffer heat-related emergencies faster.

How hot is too hot to leave a dog in a vehicle?

A car’s temperature can quickly exceed the outside temperature within minutes. Many may ask what is the best temperature to leave their dogs in the car? Well, look at it this way: an outside temperature of 95 degrees can reach 114 degrees in 10 minutes and a whopping 129 degrees in just 30 minutes. A dog without cool drinking water or a continuous air flow can lead to overheating if the situation exceeds 30 just minutes.

How to tell if your animal is overheating?

Dogs do not have sweat glands, so they result in panting to cool down. If a dog is already panting outside, they need cool, drinking water immediately. This includes dogs left outside on tethers as well as left in hot vehicles for extended amounts of time. More signs of overheating include extreme salivation, sticky or dry gums, disorientation, and labored breathing. When a dog’s internal temperature reaches over 106 degrees Fahrenheit, he can no longer cool himself down which can result in serious illness or eventual death.

If your own pet is suffering from a heat-related emergency, take your pet to a veterinarian for evaluation and treatment. If you witness an animal that you believe is suffering from a heat-related emergency, contact the local police or a Humane Society Police Officer immediately.

Can I break the window of a vehicle with an animal showing signs of overheating?

In Pennsylvania, no civilian can break into a vehicle for the purpose of removing a dog or cat. If you suspect an animal is becoming overheated and is showing signs of dehydration, you can call Officer Fry directly at (412)345-7300 ext. 245 or call 911 and ask to be put in contact with Humane Officer Angela Fry. Stay by the car until assistance arrives.

How can I prevent overheating?

Before you take your pet with you, ask yourself if they need to come with you. – If that answer is no- leave your pets safely at home. When leaving your dogs outside, Officer Fry suggests that pet owners should provide fresh water to drink for their pets frequently and not leave their pet’s outside unattended or for extended periods.

Officer Fry also warns about pavement temperatures when walking your pets. “Also be mindful of the hot concrete and especially asphalt when walking your pet, as it can burn their paw pads.” Temperatures of the pavement on sidewalks and roads can also be elevated which can make the asphalt reach temperatures of 127 degrees on a sunny, 75-degree day. It is always important to be prepared before starting your walk and protect your pets’ feet.

Who should a person call when they see a pet tethered outside or left in a car and are showing signs of overheating?

If you feel that an animal is in danger, please call the humane society police officer at HARP at 412-350-7300 ext. 245 during daylight hours Monday-Friday. On weekends or after 3 p.m. on weekdays call your local police for immediate assistance.

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