Local resident spearheads effort to keep dogs cool

Friday May 10, 2013

BRATTLEBORO - Local resident Barry Adams is spearheading an effort to educate the public about the dangers of leaving dogs in hot cars

Signs were posted in several municipal parking lots last week warning drivers about the danger that hot cars pose to dogs. Adams also is leading a community awareness event later this month as part of his role as a volunteer with RedRover's national My Dog Is Cool campaign.

On May 25, Adams and his partner, Kevin Maloney, former chairman of the Brattleboro Planning Commission, will dress up in puppy costumes and hold umbrellas as they talk with families at the Harmony Lot, one of the municipal parking lots where dogs previously have been found in hot cars. They will provide informational summer pet safety fliers, posters and giveaways from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Adams' efforts to educate the public and protect dogs from hot cars spans several years. In October 2012, the Brattleboro Transportation Committee approved Adams' proposal to have signs posted in municipal parking lots, including the Brattleboro Transportation Center, the Harmony parking lot, and the Preston, Harris, and High-Grove parking lots. The signs, funded by an anonymous donation to the town, contain a simple message to remind pet owners that heat in enclosed vehicles kills pets.

Adams had worked with town officials since 2007 to develop the plan, and received strong letters of support from several national and local animal groups, including RedRover, Vermont Veterinary Medical Association, Windham County Humane Society and Vermont Animal Cruelty Task Force. In the spring of 2011, Brattleboro also began including warnings of the dangers of leaving dogs in hot cars on all dog license applications and all dog license renewal forms.

"Each year, authorities are called to respond to emergencies involving pets left in hot cars. By posting signs and engaging the community we hope to reduce these incidents," said Adams. "Leaving a dog in the car while running errands can literally be a death sentence. As the heat inside a car quickly rises, dogs suffer irreversible organ damage and eventually death. Brattleboro residents and visitors need to be reminded that the safe choice is to leave your dog in a cool house."

Already in 2013, several cases of dogs being left behind in hot cars have made the headlines. In April, a Virginia woman was charged with two felony counts of animal cruelty when her two dogs perished in a hot car while she shopped at a Walmart for about an hour, despite parking in a shaded area and leaving the windows cracked. A Massachusetts student was charged with cruelty to animals after he left his golden retriever in a car at Cape Cod Community College. Despite temperatures in the 70s outside, the temperature in the car was a sweltering 106, and the dog was showing signs of heat distress.

Five reasons why leaving a dog in a car on a warm day can be deadly:

-- Dogs are especially vulnerable to heat-related illness because they can only cool off by panting and through the pads in their feet.

-- Even seemingly mild days are dangerous. In a Stanford University study, when it was 72 degrees outside, a car's internal temperature climbed to 116 degrees within one hour, with most of the rise happening in the first 15 to 30 minutes.

-- Enclosed cars heat up quickly. In a study by San Francisco State University, when it was 80 degrees outside, the temperature inside a car rose to 99 degrees in 10 minutes and 109 degrees in 20 minutes.

-- A dog's normal body temperature is between 101 to 102.5 degrees; a dog can only withstand a high body temperature for a short time before suffering irreversible nerve damage, heart problems, liver damage, brain damage or even death.

-- Studies show that cracking the windows has little effect on a vehicle's internal temperature.

To learn more about the dangers of leaving dogs in hot cars, visit MyDogIsCool.com. If you see a dog in distress in a hot car in Brattleboro, call the Brattleboro Animal Control immediately at 802-257-7946.


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