Lately I’ve been seeing so many dogs left in vehicles on sweltering summer days. Usually, the windows are either cracked a bit or wide open, but every time the dogs have been overheated – panting, whining, pacing, drooling, etc.
It affects me deeply enough to take action and, admittedly, to lose my shit. Two weeks ago, I plucked a little dog from a hot car and went in search of the owner, only to find him in a vet clinic – WHERE DOGS ARE ALLOWED. When I figured out the dog was his, I lost it on him and told him that he was lucky I didn’t call the cops and the SPCA to report his blatant animal abuse and stupidity. First he told me that his dog had only been in the car for five minutes and then he told me to fuck off and mind my own business because I was an idiot. During the entire exchange, the lady working in the clinic said exactly nothing, which was really helpful. I left the dog with the owner, against all of my instincts, and walked out of the clinic enraged by his complete ignorance. It is still bothering me because I know that he didn’t learn from it and that his dog may end up dead because of it.
Two days ago, I called the cops about two large dogs – a Lab and a Rotty – who were showing signs of heat stroke in a truck in the Home Hardware parking lot. I was on the phone with the 911 dispatcher when the owner came out, realized what I was doing and also told me to fuck off, called me a fucking idiot and also – wonder of wonders – told me he’d only been in the store for five minutes. He was lying because I’d already been out in the parking lot with the dogs for at least eight minutes, if not longer. He was basically downplaying his own stupidity and turning the focus onto me. I didn’t care because the dispatcher told me that they would follow up with him because I’d given her his license plate. Unfortunately, the police called me back shortly after to say that the license plate didn’t match the description of the vehicle that I gave, so they wouldn’t be following up on it. I should have just taken a picture of it with my phone and sent it in to them, but since I was on my phone, it didn’t occur to me. I was, once again, enraged at the “there’s nothing we can do” attitude of the police. I found myself wondering how differently they would have reacted if I’d called and told them that two kids were locked in a hot car. I bet that would have garnered a response lickity split.
About half an hour after that incident, Greg and I were driving along the Halston Connector and there was a golden retriever in the bed of the truck in front of us. The dog was in a steel crate and he was spinning in circles, drooling excessively and panting like crazy. I started balling because it finally struck me that there are just too many people out there whose ignorance causes their dogs to suffer needlessly. I didn’t call the police again because I figured I’d probably get the same sort of runaround as earlier. Instead, I raged and cried to Greg about how much it kills me inside to see animals suffering. When I finally calmed down, a plan formed in my mind about how I could raise awareness and get it to a large audience.
Yesterday, I conducted an experiment on myself to see how much my temperature would rise as my car heated up. I ended up giving myself heatstroke. I still have a pounding head and my muscles feel weak and trembly and it’s been 18 hours since I did it.
Here is what I did:
I wore a tshirt and thick hoodie, a pair of full length thick yoga pants, shoes and socks. Then I cooled the car off with the A/C until it was a comfortable temperature for me to handle. Then, I parked my car in the shade of my carport, opened up all of the windows and turned the car off. I measured both my temperature and the inside/outside temperatures for approximately 23 minutes until my head was aching and spinning, my muscles were starting to tremble and I had sweated out a ton of fluid – basically until I could not handle the stifling heat in the car for one more second. I literally stumbled my way into the house and made my way downstairs to the coolest part of the house, where I stayed for 45 minutes, drinking water and electrolytes and willing my head to stop pounding out of my skull. 23 minutes was all it took for me to overheat to the point where I felt ill.
In that 23 minutes, my temperature rose 6° C and the temperature inside the car rose 11° C. It was ridiculous how quickly my temperature rose after I had sweat out a ton of fluids. I was LUCKY that I could sweat because it probably would have been much worse if I couldn’t.
Here’s the really sad part. Dogs can only cool themselves down by sweating through the pads of their feet (although they can only sweat a little bit this way) and by panting (which runs cool air over the moist parts of their tongues and lungs in order to cool down their organ systems and brain). If a dog is inside a hot car, it can’t get the cool air it needs to regulate its body temperature so its system overheats very quickly and, as a result, starts to shut down its organs in an attempt to preserve its brain. People think that if they leave the windows open for their dog it will be enough to keep it cool, but this is just not so. Even if your dog is in the back of your truck with the wind blowing all around it, that wind is still hot wind and won’t allow your dog to cool itself by panting. Not to mention that the bed of the truck is hotter than hot, so it can’t sweat through its paws very well either.
It makes me sick to my stomach to know that people do this to their dogs all the time and think it’s no big deal. It is a big deal. It is a very big deal. It could mean the death of your dog.
I did this experiment and put it on Facebook and asked people to share it with everyone they know to help me raise awareness.
Please share this blog with your friends and family and help me spread the word, through this tangible proof, of the dangers of leaving your dog in a hot car.
Thanks peeps. I wish you all enough…