DANGER! Dogs in Hot Cars

Every day this summer, once again, are reports of dogs dying when they are left in hot cars. In fact, there have been two incidents of K9 Dogs dying, betrayed by their own partners–the very cops rescuers are told to call when they see dogs in distress.

You need to know that leaving a companion animal alone in a parked car, especially in warm to hot weather, is animal cruelty in many states. You also need to know how quickly your precious dog might die while you run errands–just because you hated to leave Sparky at home. 

When the temperature outside is in the high 70’s and 80’s (much less the 90’s), a parked car quickly becomes unbearably hot inside within minutes–even in the shade and even with the windows left open a few inches. If the car is parked in the sun, the inside temperature can quickly reach 160 degrees. Leaving the air conditioner on in an idling car isn’t much help as it begins to labor and can shut down the engine. The dog could also knock the car into gear as he struggles to get out. As humane societies, law enforcement agencies, and local media constantly warn pet owners, in just 5 minutes, the temperature inside a car even with the windows cracked can reach 100 degrees or more. In just 10 minutes, the temperature inside a car can reach 120 degrees or more. The dog has a fur coat designed to retain heat, and he cannot sweat when he is overheated. As the inside temperature rises, the dog’s body temperature has also risen, and he may have just minutes to live. If not rescued, he will suffer heatstroke, leading to collapse, brain damage, and an agonizing death. 

Danger signals of overheating, whether from being in a parked car or from excessive exercise in heat and humidity are the following: Obvious distress, staggering, heavy panting to eventually struggling to breathe, excessive drooling, vomiting, glassy eyes, dark red to blue or purple gums and tongue, collapse, seizures, and coma. If your dog is suffering, apply the following first aid: Get him into the shade, pour cool (not cold) water on him or use cool towels to gradually lower body temperature. Give him cool water or ice cubes to lick. Rush him to your veterinarian immediately for a thorough examination.

Another reason not to leave dogs unattended in locked cars, even with the windows rolled down, is that they can jump out to look for the owner and be lost or worse.  Also, dogs have been stolen even from locked cars.  In general, it is stupid and cruel to leave dogs in cars especially in the summer but really at any time.

Generally, except for taking your dog on trips where he is welcome inside, do him a favor and leave him home. Never leave your dog alone in a parked car: you could be cited by the police and pay a fine.  Worse, you could lose your dog.

As a rescuer, if I see your dog in agony in your locked hot car, I will call 911, but if I think he is dying, I will break your window and free your dog, rendering first aid in trying to save him.  And I don’t want to hear one word from you about your damn window.


Rescue 101: In Praise of the Older Dog


“Blessed is the person who has earned the love of an old dog.”
– Sydney Jeannne Seward

In 1999, the winner of Westminster Best in Show, beating out over 2500 other gorgeous champions, including a beautiful blue merle Sheltie, was a tiny, four-pound Papillion who captured everyone’s hearts, including the judges’.  Filled with energy and showmanship, little Kirby danced away with everything, riding around Madison Square Garden with grace and joy in the Best of Show Winner’s Cup. This top show dog in America was 8 years old. Kirby lived another 8 years, crossing over February 2007 at age 16.

In 2009, there was a particularly strong display of outstanding dogs in all the breeds.  When it was over, Stump, a terrific Sussex Spaniel, won Best in Show.  He had come out of retirement to take it all and accepted the honor with happiness and dignity: Stump is 10 years old, the oldest winner in the history of the Westminster.

Daisy and Shelby  
Daisy with her comical Shelby

Members of  our rescue program, who adopt as well as foster, have learned to love and even prefer senior dogs. Beth adopted Roscoe at age 12 after his family abandoned him on a foggy night to the local animal shelter because they “wanted to travel after the kids left home.”  He became one of our program’s ambassadors for rescue and lived to almost 16.  Linda adopted Robin also at age 12, and he, too, lived to 16.  Robin had also been abandoned and came into the program thin, flea infested, and coated in mud. He was one of the most gorgeous and beloved Shelties in our program’s 11-year history.  Applesauce found himself tossed into a shelter at age 10 as collateral damage after a divorce. We flew him to Chicago and his new mom, Ro, also a rescuer who had fallen in love with him on our web site.  He lived another 6 years and became famous in rescue circle nationwide. All of these seniors were sweet, adorable dogs who delighted us every day with their grace and good humor. 

Roscoe lounging (with Sassy in foreground)

We have also adopted seniors who did not live as long as we wanted them to: Wayne and Sue lost their precious 12 year old Magic after only a year.  He had been found wandering the streets and was the tiniest Sheltie at 8 pounds we had in our program. His little feet rarely touched the ground as everyone wanted to cuddle him. I lost 10 year old Shelby also after only a year, but I smile every time I think about the joy she brought our family.  No rescuer in our program would trade even only a year with our adorable little guys for anything.

Magic the Adorable with his Mom

We love puppies and younger adult dogs; however, raising and training puppies and young dogs is a lot of work, and not every owner has the time or energy for that job. Older rescued dogs bring with them maturity, intelligence, mannerly behavior, dignity, and, yes, great fun. Many of these seniors are just comical; and even when we lose them, the memories of their antics make us smile. All of our older Shelties were abandoned rescues; all but the terminally ill became healthy, happy, and absolutely gorgeous in our care, and all gave back far more than any of us could have imagined when we first rescued and adopted them.  

People ask us all the time why older dogs end up in shelters.  Sometimes Seniors find themselves in rescue because their humans can no longer take care of them or go to a nursing home or even die. But often these guys, and so many more like them, are abandoned, dumped, cast aside for only one reason: they got old. When this happens, it is a complete failure in responsibility and compassion and empathy on the part of the people these wonderful dogs trusted all their lives. These should be their golden years, enjoying long naps, good food, warm mornings sunning their tired bones on the patio or deck, evening walks and cuddles in the protective love of their grateful families.

Instead, too often their loyalty and companionship are repaid with a cage in an animal shelter, on the list to be euthanized as ‘unadoptable’–because they grew ‘too old.’ Or sometimes the dogs are abandoned because the kids those very dogs were originally purchased for as companions grew up and left  home. They leave their old sidekicks behind along with their childhoods, and to parents who now want to live their own lives and don’t see the dog as part of their plans any longer. And, even more reprehensible, sometimes these senior dogs are cast aside simply because the family wants another puppy, and the current dog is now expendable in their eyes. In a society that over-values youthfulness and neglects older citizens, it is not surprising that some owners take the same attitude toward older dogs and cats; but it is not right, nor is it fair. 

So, in rescue work, the preponderance of animals needing help are older. Like all living beings that survive babyhood and youthful indiscretions, they grew older.  Sometimes they get a touch of arthritis, suffer a bit of vision or hearing loss; they slow down as we all do. But their love doesn’t slow down; nor does their loyalty abate with age. Older dogs are endearing companions who have years left in them to give love and service to their attentive humans; in fact, adoption into a loving home often re-energizes these dogs who amaze their owners with how young at heart and active they really are. Like Kirby and Spunk, they, too, are top dogs.

And Applesauce

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