In May, dispatchers received 68 high-priority calls about dogs left in an enclosed vehicle during hot temperatures. This is more than five times the number reported during May 2011, when there were 13 calls for dogs in vehicles.
So far there have been no pet fatalities as a result of pets being left in hot cars, and Washoe County Regional Animal Services staff would like to keep it that way.
“This is a disturbing increase and we want to make sure pet owners understand that confining your dog or cat to the inside of a car, even on a mild day, places your pet in a life-threatening situation,” Regional Animal Services Manager Barry Brode said. “When it gets to the point where an animal’s well-being is threatened, Animal Control officers will take the necessary steps, as obligated by the law, to save an endangered animal by removing it from the vehicle. Even if they have to break a window to do it. Our goal is to prevent this from happening by getting this important message out to the public now.”
Regional Animal Services will hold a “hot car” demonstration for the media at 1 today. A thermometer will be used to illustrate how quickly the temperature in a vehicle rises to dangerous and deadly levels.
Temperatures inside a closed automobile can easily rise to 20 degrees or warmer than outside temperatures. This could prove deadly to a pet.
“Even a short trip can include delays that endanger your pet’s safety,” Brode said. “Your best bet is to leave your pet at home. It takes only a few minutes on a warm day for animals to succumb to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.”
Nevada law makes it illegal for a person to “allow a cat or dog to remain unattended in a parked or standing motor vehicle during a period of extreme heat or cold or in any other manner that endangers the health or safety of the cat or dog.”
The law also allows states that designated responders “may use any force that is reasonable and necessary under the circumstances to remove from a motor vehicle a cat or dog that is allowed to remain in the motor vehicle in violation of subsection 1.”
The public is encouraged to report distressed animals locked in hot cars immediately by contacting Washoe County Regional Animal Services dispatch at 322-3647.