Summer is just around the corner but here in Arizona the weather does not pay close attention to the calendar. Every year we hear about the number of dogs that succumb to heat after being left in a hot vehicle. And each year I wonder what could have been done differently to lower the number of hot car deaths. This year I thought I would explain what happens to a pet’s body when they are left in a hot vehicle.
• First their cooling mechanisms will kick in; they will begin panting and drooling starts. At this time their blood vessels begin to dilate
• Blood pressure is affected since the heart is working harder to provide blood to the dilated vessels. Blood starts to pool in the organs and their blood pressure begins to drop.
• Organs start to become damaged; kidney cells suffer thermal damage with small blood clots forming increasing damage to the kidneys. The cells lining the intestine and stomach also suffer from thermal damage leading to severe, bloody diarrhea and vomiting.
• Liver cells start to die due to the severe thermal damage.
• Tiny blood clots form in the brain and the brain begins to swell.
• Once their body temperature reaches 109F the pet will suffer irreversible brain damage, begin having seizures, lapse into a coma and die.
Below is a photograph of the interior of a car that a dog was trapped in on a warm and sunny day. He tore up the interior in a desperate attempt to escape from the locked vehicle. Sadly, he died as a result of heat stroke.
In Arizona, a person who uses reasonable force to enter a locked and unattended motor vehicle to remove a confined domestic animal is not liable for any damages in a civil action as long as four stipulations are followed. A full explanation is provided under the Arizona Legislature website.
Let this summer be different.
Tacy Pastor is Executive Director of the Verde Valley Humane Society.