Friday, July 30, 2010

Caring for and Protecting Pets on Hot, Sunny Days

With the onset of warmer weather, The City of Calgary Animal & Bylaw Services and the Calgary Humane Society would like to alert pet owners of the risk of heatstroke to pets that are left unattended in parked cars on hot, sunny days.

“People don’t realize how quickly a parked car heats up,” says Bill Bruce, the Director of Animal & Bylaw Services. “This is why Calgary’s Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw states that pets can’t be left unattended in a vehicle if the weather conditions are not suitable. The bylaw protects pets by including days where the temperatures are either too hot or too cold.”

For example, on a day where the outside temperature is 29 degrees Celsius, it takes only ten minutes for the interior of a vehicle to heat up to approximately 39 degrees Celsius. However, within 30 minutes, the temperature inside of that same car can reach a staggering 49 degrees Celsius.

Part of the concern is related to a dog’s physiology. While humans have sweat glands to cool their body, a dog primarily cools down by panting. This is far less efficient than sweating. In a very short period of time, a dog with a high body temperature can suffer critical damage to his nervous system, heart, liver and brain.

Provincial laws also place the responsibly with pet owners. The Alberta Animal Protection Act states that animals under an owner’s care must be protected from injurious heat or cold.

“We currently have responded to 48 cases so far this summer, and that total does not include the multiple people we have referred to the Calgary Police Service or those that have been responded to by Animal & Bylaw Services,” says Brad Nichols, head of Protection and Investigations for the Calgary Humane Society.

“The Humane Society encourages the public to call our Peace Officers, Animal & Bylaw Services by calling 3-1-1 or the Calgary Police non emergency line to help animals that are in distress.”

Animal & Bylaw and the Calgary Humane Society suggest that on hot days, pet owners leave their dogs safely at home where they are comfortable. On cooler days, if a quick errand results in a dog being left for a short period of time unattended in a vehicle, the windows of the vehicle must be left open to allow suitable ventilation. The windows must not be open so wide that the dog has contact with people outside of the vehicle.

These precautions can protect pets and help prevent heatstroke.

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