WHITEFISH – A reminder is being issued about the dangers of leaving a dog in a hot vehicle as the temperature continues to rise in Northwest Montana.
Humane Society of Northwest Montana executive director Lori Heatherington says even if the outside temperature isn’t that hot, the inside of the car could be dangerously hot.
“If you have a parked car in temperatures of 70 degrees, within 20 minutes that car can be at 99 degrees, at 30 minutes 104 degrees. So, your pets or anyone else in the car are apt to suffer heat stroke or symptoms of heat stroke,” Heatherington said.
She added that during the warmer months pet owners should monitor their dog for heat stroke.
The symptoms include excess panting, tiredness and drooling, and bright red gums. If your dog does show these symptoms apply cold compresses all over their body and immediately take them to the vet.
Additionally, rolling your car windows down while your dog is in the car isn’t a solution.
“Temperatures are rising in the car, it’s not an airflow issue, it’s the temperature rising. So, as the temperature rises the pet is not able to breathe and not able to cool down so their body temperature is excessively rising and airflow doesn’t matter, cracked windows don’t help the situation,” Heatherington explained.
Leaving your pet in a hot car for extended periods could actually be a criminal case. Sheriff Brian Heino says that last summer Flathead County had 81 animal cruelty calls.
“There’s a criminal aspect to it, there’s a court case that people can be charged for animal cruelty,” he explained. “Again, we’re looking at investigations where we have to collect veterinarian information on the status of the dog and interviews and statements from people in order to prosecute.”
If you see a dog in a vehicle and expect cruelty please take down the make and model of the vehicle and report it to the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office. Heatherington and Sheriff Heino both suggest leaving your pet at home instead of taking them out on errands and leaving them in a hot car.
Reporting by Maren Siu for MTN News